07:54 AM

USRA Appoints Donald Kniffen as Vice President for Science

Dr. Donald A. Kniffen, a veteran of the space program for over forty years has been appointed Vice President for Science at the Universities Space Research Association (USRA). 'We are pleased to announce Don's appointment to this very important position,' said USRA President and Chief Executive Officer Dr. Frederick A. Tarantino, 'Don is a distinguished scientist and outstanding leader. His appointment reflects the tradition of science in USRA and the importance we place on it.'

'I am delighted to be able and continue my service to space science in this manner,' said Dr. Kniffen. 'USRA is an outstanding organization and I hope to help preserve and extend its contributions to space.' Don began his career as a scientist with NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center holding positions of increasingly important scientific responsibility. He was Project Scientist for the Compton Observatory, the second of NASA's Great Observatories and the heaviest astrophysical payload ever flown at the time of its launch. Don later served in scientific program management roles at NASA Headquarters as program scientist for both Compton and the Chandra X-ray Observatory. He held the William W. Elliott endowed chair and led the Physics and Astronomy department at Hampden-Sydney College. Don joined USRA in 2005 as USRA Director of the Center for Research and Exploration in Space Science and Technology at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. Most recently Don served as Science Mission Operations Director for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) airborne observatory at NASA Ames Research Center. There he led the development of SOFIA's early science observing plan and selected early science observers. As Vice President for Science, Don will oversee general efforts in astronomy, planetary, earth and life science disciplines. Don will be based at USRA's Columbia Maryland Headquarters.

The Universities Space Research Association, founded in 1969, is a private, nonprofit consortium of 104 research universities offering doctoral degrees in space science and aeronautics disciplines. USRA operates programs and institutions focused on research and education in science and advanced technology.