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USRA Director, Joan Schmelz, Recognized in Nature's 'Ten people who mattered this year' as 'A Voice for Women'

USRA's Joan Schmelz has been named one of Nature 's ten people who mattered in 2015 for her efforts to cause positive change in the astronomy community with her concern for victims of sexual harassment. Schmelz was described by Nature as "a voice for women" who "worked to unmask a prominent sexual harasser." Schmelz joined USRA in June of this year as Director of the USRA program at Arecibo Observatory, and serves as Deputy Director of the Observatory.

"Congratulations to our USRA colleague, Joan Schmelz," said Nick White, USRA Senior Vice President, Science. "The Nature citation is for work she undertook prior to joining USRA as chair of the American Astronomical Society's Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy. We are proud to have Joan as a member of the USRA workforce and applaud her recognition by such a prestigious journal."

Schmelz provides leadership and management of the USRA program at the observatory, which includes astrophysical research and planetary science. Schmelz received her Ph.D. in Astronomy and Astrophysics from The Pennsylvania State University in 1987, with her research based on observations taken with Arecibo Observatory where she was resident. She then joined the operations team for the Solar Maximum Mission Satellite at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Schmelz was Professor at the University of Memphis and a regular visitor to the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Her research investigates coronal heating and coronal loops as well as the properties and dynamics of the solar atmosphere. Most recently, she served as a program officer in the National Science Foundation's Division of Astronomical Sciences. Schmelz chaired the American Astronomical Society's Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy from 2009 to 2015.