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UA Alumnus Update: James Head

UA Alumnus Update: James Head

Dr. James Head (1999) is serving as a Science and Technology Policy Fellow, sponsored by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and hosted at the State Department, Office of Space and Advanced Technology. There are approximately 250 AAAS Fellows, approximately 35 serving in Congress and the balance spread across 15 executive branch agencies. Fellows mostly hold a Ph.D. in a scientific discipline, leavened with a few Masters-level engineers, medical doctors, and a veterinarian. The Fellows provide science expertise for the policy process, both in formulation and implementation and in return are given an unparalleled education in the operations of the Federal government. Jim's Fellowship began with two weeks of orientation in September 2010, where experts in the public and academic sectors instructed the entering class of 140 on the philosophical underpinnings of the American experiment in government, the Federal budget and process, executive and legislative processes and cultures, diplomacy and foreign policy, and science policy. This training is augmented throughout the Fellowship tenure with monthly professional development activities ranging from learning how to negotiate a Washington cocktail party to career planning to public engagement to panels on jobs for PhDs outside the laboratory. With ~1500 former Fellows working in government and Non-governmental organizations in the DC area, the alumni constitute a formidable network of science and policy expertise.

Jim's office manages international aspects of America's space program and helps craft and implement each administration's National Space Policy. His specific portfolio includes space weather, space debris, space situational awareness, and near-earth objects, utilizing the expertise gained at LPL and in a decade in the aerospace industry. The fact that he learned space physics from Randy Jokipii and remembers a few key equations granted him instant credibility with space weather experts at NOAA and NASA, which aids his efforts internationally.

In his Fellowship role, Jim has participated in the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space (Vienna), the International Astronautical Congress (Cape Town), the annual US-EU space security dialogue (Madrid), and the European Space Weather Week (Belgium). He represents the international viewpoint to US government agencies at venues such as Space Weather Week (Boulder) and NASA-sponsored workshops (NASA-Ames). His most significant task to date was leading the US interagency process to craft the US position on long-term sustainability of space activities, then negotiating a consensus document and workplan at the UN that met US objectives. He now serves on three expert groups established in that effort. In addition, Jim instigated and leads an international effort to develop and adopt goals for space weather cooperation in research and operations. In these efforts Jim works closely with scientists and international specialists at NASA, NOAA, the National Weather Service, the Pentagon, USGS, and the FAA.

Jim renewed the Fellowship to serve the maximum two years and hence will be somewhere else by September. That may be a return to Raytheon in Tucson, but the Fellowship opens many opportunities in government, academia, and industry that would not be available otherwise.
Information about AAAS Fellowship can be found at

Information about the UN role in space exploration can be found at

Contents Spring 2012 Department News
Faculty Updates
Grad Student News
Alumni Updates
LPL in the News