08:08 AM

USRA Scientist Named American Academy of Arts and Sciences Fellow

The Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is proud to announce that Dr. Eric Becklin has been selected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (the Academy). One of the world's foremost infrared astronomers, Dr. Becklin has played a significant role in laying the basis for the modern science of astronomy with wide-ranging work that includes the discovery of the location of the nucleus of the Milky Way, one of the first co-discoveries of brown dwarf stars, and the discovery of the first known star in formation - a bright infrared source within the Orion Nebula known as the Becklin-Neugebauer Object (named after Becklin and his Ph.D. advisor Dr. Gerry Neugebauer).

Dr. Becklin currently serves as the Chief Science Advisor for NASA's Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) at the USRA-managed SOFIA Science Center at NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA. In that position Dr. Becklin has been 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 airborne infrared astronomers. Dr. Becklin is, in addition, a professor-emeritus of physics and astronomy the University of California at Los Angeles.

With his selection by the Academy Dr. Becklin joined an outstanding group of inductees in the 2009 class of Fellows and Foreign Honorary Members including former Secretary of State General Colin Powell, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and former President of South Africa Nelson Mandela, distinguished Civil War historian James McPherson, writer Thomas Pynchon, and actor James Earl Jones.

On learning of his selection Dr. Becklin confessed to being 'Quite surprised and, at the same time, very honored by my selection as an academy fellow,' and added that 'To be recognized by my peers with this prestigious fellowship is very gratifying.'

USRA CEO and President Dr. Frederick A. Tarantino cited Dr. Becklin as an outstanding example of the expertise, professional stature, and dedication that USRA's scientific and technical staff brings to any endeavor. 'Eric Becklin's infrared research has enabled a greater understanding of our universe, and his work has opened up significant new avenues of research for up-and-coming generations of astronomers and physicists,' said Dr. Tarantino, 'USRA is extremely proud and very pleased to see Dr. Becklin's distinguished and very important work recognized by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.'

The Academy, based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was founded in 1780, and today serves as 'an international body of men and women of exceptional achievement, drawn from science, scholarship, business, public affairs, and the arts... to conduct a varied program of projects and studies responsive to the needs and problems of society.'

Established in 1969 by the National Academy of Sciences, USRA is a private, nonprofit consortium of 104 universities offering advanced degrees in space- and aeronautics-related disciplines. USRA's mission is to conduct leading-edge research, develop innovative technologies, promote space-related education and policy, and operate premier science/technology facilities by involving universities, private industry and government.