Our Story

The original vision was that AUI would create and manage facilities and laboratories so large, complex, and costly that they were outside the capabilities of a single university.

For nearly 70 years, AUI has stayed true to this original vision.

For our first half century, AUI managed the Brookhaven National Laboratory. During this time, six Nobel Prizes were awarded for research conducted wholly or in part at the lab while under the management of AUI.


AUI proposed the creation of—and since 1956 has managed the operations of—the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO). In 2016, AUI also began to manage the operations of the Green Bank Observatory (GBO) in West Virginia. NRAO has been the catalyst for a revolution in the field of radio astronomy. Its innovative facilities include the Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico, and the North American portion of the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), built at 16,500 feet in the mountains of Chile. The National Science Foundation’s Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), a continent-wide radio telescope system, will once again officially be a part of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and will undergo a technical upgrade to significantly improve its capabilities. Working through NRAO, AUI has delivered results on time and within budget on the largest single procurement ever funded by the National Science Foundation.


Starting in 2010, AUI jointly operated the Virtual Astronomy Observatory (VAO) with AURA, producing major contributions to international virtual observatory standards. In 2009, AUI also joined the universities of the CCAT consortium to lead the Chilean operations of the proposed submillimeter telescope in Chile and obtained the land concession on Cerro Chajnantor; following the descoping of CCAT to a smaller survey telescope, AUI helped transition the project governance. AUI and NRAO have also engaged with and supported the Square Kilometer Array; the global organization behind plans for the largest, most sensitive radio telescope in the world located across Southern Africa and Australia.


NSF has recognized that under AUI management, “NRAO has remained at the frontier of radio astronomy research through the conception, development and operation of transformational facilities.”

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