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USRA Employees Receive NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal

Dr. Eric Becklin, Chief Science Advisor for the Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), and Ms. Christine Gorecki, Business Manager for the National Center for Space Exploration Research (NCSER), each received the NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal, one of NASA's highest awards for civilian workers. This prestigious NASA medal is awarded to any non-Government individual or to an individual who was not a Government employee during the period in which service was performed or sustained performance that embodies multiple contributions to NASA projects, programs, or initiatives.

On August 23, 2012 in a ceremony held at Dryden Flight Research Center, Dr. Becklin received his medal 'for excellence as a pioneer in the infrared astronomy field and providing key leadership for the scientific success of the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy.' At the USRA-managed SOFIA Science Center at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA, Dr. Becklin is a driving force in shaping the science vision for SOFIA, guides the development of the observatory's instruments, and provides invaluable mentoring to a new generation of astronomers.

Ms. Gorecki received her medal 'for truly outstanding organizational contributions to NASA Exploration Technology Development and International Space Station Research at the NASA Glenn Research Center.' In a ceremony held on August 9, 2012 at the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, OH, Ms. Gorecki was applauded by colleagues Mr. Steve Simons, NCSER Director and Dr. Karin Hilser, USRA Chief Financial Officer, who said of Gorecki: 'In her 15 years with USRA, Chris Gorecki has shown tireless dedication to the NASA Customer and USRA's Mission. She is very deserving of this award.'

In addition to the individual awards received, USRA's SOFIA Outreach Team and SOFIA Primary Mirror Repair Team also received NASA Group Achievement Awards.

SOFIA is a joint project of NASA and the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and is based and managed at NASA's Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, CA for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington, DC. NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, CA manages the SOFIA science and mission operations in cooperation with the Universities Space Research Association headquartered in Columbia, MD, and the German SOFIA Institute (DSI) at the University of Stuttgart.

The National Center for Space Exploration Research (NCSER), a research team led by USRA and Case Western Reserve University, provides on-site microgravity expertise to NASA Glenn Research Center. The NCSER team specializes in reduced gravity fluid mechanics, reduced gravity combustion processes, human physiological systems, theoretical modeling, and advanced technology development.

Founded in 1969, USRA is an independent research corporation with competencies that span space, Earth, and life sciences related disciplines, which are closely aligned with the nation's science and national security agencies. As a non-profit corporation with 105 major research university members, USRA's scientific and technical staff collaborate with over 400 universities annually. This depth of reach into the research community provides a unique platform for advancing science and technology.