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Physicist Named to National Science Board

UCR Physicist Named to Space Studies Board

UCR’s Gary Zank named to an advisory board playing a key role in national and international space policy.

(May 31, 2005)

Gary P. Zank

Gary P. Zank

RIVERSIDE, Calif. — — Gary P. Zank, director of the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics, and a professor of physics at the University of California, Riverside, has been selected to serve on the Space Studies Board of the National Research Council. His position becomes effective July 1, 2005.

Zank’s first meeting as a member will be on Nov. 8 to Nov. 10, 2005, at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center of the National Academies in Irvine, Calif. The Space Studies Board (SSB) plays a key role in the development of science policy at the national and international level.

Established in 1958 by the National Academy of Sciences, the Space Studies Board (SSB) provides an independent, authoritative forum for information and advice on all aspects of space science and applications. The Board conducts advisory studies and program assessments, helps coordinate international research, and promotes communications on space science and science policy between the research community, the federal government, and the interested public. The Board annually sponsors a Summer Space Policy Internship Program, which offers an undergraduate student majoring in physics, astronomy, chemistry, biology, or geology, an opportunity to work in the area of civil space research policy in the nation’s capital under the aegis of the National Academies.

“I think it's wonderful that Dr. Gary Zank will be a member of such an influential and prestigious body,” said UC Riverside Chancellor France Cordova, herself a space physicist. “Gary's expertise both at the scientific and administrative levels makes him a natural choice to add depth and insight to the work of the Space Studies Board in articulating national science policy.”

Zank, whose research specialty is in the study of the heliosphere — the area of the solar system affected by the solar wind — and its boundary with interstellar space, has been attracting attention in many quarters.

He is part of a scientific team developing the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX), a satellite that will make the first map of the boundary between the Solar System and interstellar space, and which has been selected in February as part of NASA's Small Explorer program (SMEX). His theoretical models are a key component in the development of the IBEX program. The satellite is scheduled to launch in 2008.

Zank was named a Fellow of the American Physical Society in November 2004 in recognition of his contributions to advances in knowledge through his original research and publication and his significant and innovative contributions in the application of physics to science and technology. Fellowship is bestowed on fewer than one half of 1 percent of the 43,000 APS members in any given year. APS is the professional society of physicists in the United States, and election to Fellowship represents recognition by one's peers for professional achievement.

In 2003, he was one of 14 member of the UCR faculty named fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the world’s largest general scientific organization.

The SSB is part of the National Research Council and acts as the NAS representative to the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) of the International Council of Scientific Unions. The Space Studies Board’s advisory interests have expanded to include aspects of space applications such as remote sensing and microgravity research. Its advisory purview now encompasses all federal agencies with programmatic and policy interests in civil space research.

The National Research Council is part of the National Academies, which also comprise the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine. They are private, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology and health policy advice under a congressional charter. The Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy's purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government.

The National Research Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public and the scientific and engineering communities. The Research Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine through the National Research Council Governing Board.

Zank received his Ph.D. from the University of Natal in South Africa in 1987. He is the recipient of the Zeldovich Medal in 1996 (awarded jointly by the Committee on Space Research and the Russian Academy of Sciences) and received a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award in 1994. Zank joined UCR in 2001.

The University of California, Riverside ( is a doctoral research university, a living laboratory for groundbreaking exploration of issues critical to Inland Southern California, the state and communities around the world. Reflecting California's diverse culture, UCR's enrollment has exceeded 21,000 students. The campus opened a medical school in 2013 and has reached the heart of the Coachella Valley by way of the UCR Palm Desert Center. The campus has an annual statewide economic impact of more than $1 billion.

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