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Gary Zank appointed systemwide director of IGPP


UCR Physicist Appointed Systemwide Director of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics

Gary Zank plans to strengthen multicampus component of University of California institute and raise awareness of its research activities

(September 12, 2005)

Gary P. Zank, professor of physics at UCR, has been appointed systemwide director of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics.

Gary P. Zank, professor of physics at UCR, has been appointed systemwide director of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics.

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — Gary P. Zank, professor of physics, has been appointed systemwide director of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, a leading multicampus center of the University of California dedicated to research in a variety of disciplines including experimental and theoretical space science, particle physics, astrophysics, Earth and planetary sciences, astrobiology and ocean/atmospheric sciences.

The IGPP, founded at UCLA in 1946, seeks to promote and coordinate basic research on the understanding of the origin, structure, and evolution of the Earth, the solar system and the universe. It also predicts future changes as they affect human life.

With branches also at UC Riverside, UC Irvine, UC San Diego, UC Santa Cruz, Los Alamos National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the IGPP promotes cooperative, multidisciplinary research and education in geophysics and planetary physics. An IGPP branch has been proposed for UC Berkeley.

As systemwide director, Zank intends to energize the multicampus component of the institute. “Thus far, the IGPPs at different campuses have been acting more as individual units,” said Zank, who will continue as director of the IGPP at UCR, a position he has held since joining the campus in 2001. “Our primary task is to strengthen the multicampus activities of the IGPP.”

Working with IGPP directors at individual campuses, Zank plans to develop three annual conferences involving the participation of national and international scientists and the collaboration of at least two IGPP branches. He is interested also in launching a visitor scientist program that, each academic quarter, would give geophysicists and planetary physicists the opportunity to work closely with researchers at various IGPP campuses.

Also in the plans are annual awards for graduate students, postdoctoral researchers and senior scientists involved in IGPP research, as well as an annual “IGPP Day” at Sacramento, Calif., intended to raise awareness of the institute and its activities. The tentative theme for the IGPP Day in 2006 is the 100th anniversary of the San Francisco earthquake, Zank said; for 2007, the theme will be the heliosphere — the region in space influenced by the sun or solar wind — to coincide with 2007 being the International Heliophysical Year, when attention will be focused on the problem of solar variation effects on Earth.

Zank, 44, specializes in the study of plasma astrophysics and space physics, one topic of which is the heliosphere and its boundary with interstellar space. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The recipient of several awards, including the Zeldovich Medal and a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award, he is the author or coauthor of more than 250 scientific articles.

Zank’s three-year appointment as systemwide director of IGPP is effective September 1, 2005.

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