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Spring 2015 Edition

Welcome to the Spring 2015 LPL Newsletter. As we finish off another academic year, there is, as always, lots to talk about.

The most exciting news is that Professor Renu Malhotra has been named a member of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors an American scientist can receive. For good measure, she also was named a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

spring

Spring 2015 Edition

Welcome to the Spring 2015 LPL Newsletter. As we finish off another academic year, there is, as always, lots to talk about.

The most exciting news is that Professor Renu Malhotra has been named a member of the National Academy of Sciences, one of the highest honors an American scientist can receive. For good measure, she also was named a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

The other big piece of faculty news is that two long-time LPL faculty members, Randy Jokipii and Rick Greenberg, are retiring over the summer. Rick has been at LPL for roughly a quarter of a century, but Randy has been here longer—he was one of the early hires when the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory added an academic component and the Department of Planetary Sciences was born.

In addition, our talented graduate students continue to accrue honors. Most notably, Jamie Molaro won the UA College of Science award for the most outstanding effort in public outreach, based on the very successful Art of Planetary Science event that she designed and organized. The College gives out one award each for Research, Teaching and Service each year—an LPL  grad has won one of those three each of the last four years, and the award-winners have been in all three categories, a testament to our students' performance.

We also have several items of personal interest involving the LPL family, ranging from births and graduations to just introductions to the people you might see in the hallway (if you work at LPL) or hear about from LPL friends (if you’re part of LPL’s extended family).

But perhaps the most impressive thing about LPL is still the work that is done here. This newsletter includes more than two dozen articles with an LPL twist from various news outlets, covering a broad range of topics. Reading those will give you some sense of the amazing range of interesting things going on at LPL, from flying kites in Hawai’i to study Mars to using “leftover” data from Catalina Sky Survey to study black holes. And because not every excellent paper generates a press release, you’ll have to use either your imagination or a database of the scientific literature to understand the full scope of the science that goes on at LPL.

Enjoy the newsletter, and as always, if you have news about you, your career, or your family, please let us know, so that we can pass it along to all the people who would be interested.

Timothy D. Swindle, Ph.D.
Department Head and Laboratory Director

Spring 2014 Edition

Welcome to the Spring 2014 newsletter from the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. It’s been a busy spring, with the normal extraordinary goings-on—Catalina Sky Survey found another asteroid just before it hit Earth, the OSIRIS-REx mission passed its Critical Design Review, and the HiRISE mission just keeps turning out spectacular images of the surface of Mars.

spring

Spring 2014 Edition

Welcome to the Spring 2014 newsletter from the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. It’s been a busy spring, with the normal extraordinary goings-on—Catalina Sky Survey found another asteroid just before it hit Earth, the OSIRIS-REx mission passed its Critical Design Review, and the HiRISE mission just keeps turning out spectacular images of the surface of Mars. But we also keep working to bring in new people and fresh ideas—Christopher Hamilton and Gilda Ballester joined the LPL faculty, we have a faculty search going in the multi-departmental Theoretical Astrophysics Program, and we’ve gone through an Academic Program Review to try to figure out how we can move on to even greater accomplishments (hopefully, you’ll hear the results of the latter two in the next newsletter).

We’ve got links to a lot of interesting news items relating to the science we do, and to the various awards that our talented graduate students keep winning (of note, Juan Lora won the department’s prestigious Kuiper Award and Ali Bramson won the College of Science’s Graduate Teaching Award). But we also have links to stories about things we do that aren’t exactly science. The graduate students (led by Jamie Molaro and James Keane) put on a spectacularly successful “Art of Planetary Science” art show, our building hosted the roll-out of “Orbiting Ray Bradbury’s Mars,” a book consisting of essays about science-fiction author Ray Bradbury (edited by LPL Kuiper Circle regular Gloria McMillan, spouse of Spacewatch director Bob McMillan), and the OSIRIS-REx team has started posting a set of videos called “321Science” on YouTube (I knew they were good when I realized I’d told someone about an “entertaining video about the Yarkovsky Effect”). And somewhere in the middle, between pure public outreach and pure science, Catalina Sky Survey is working with Planetary Resources Inc. (a company with Chris Lewicki, whose ties to LPL go back 20 years, as president) to crowdsource asteroid detection.

The bottom line is that LPL is a fantastic organization, full of people with a myriad of talents (some even show up on YouTube for their exploits at baseball games). Enjoy finding out what’s been going on with the LPL family, and if you haven’t been mentioned recently, let us know what’s happening in your life and career.

Timothy D. Swindle, Ph.D.
Department Head and Laboratory Director

SPRING 2013 EDITION

As usual, we’ve got a variety of news from the people around the lab, and links to stories talking about some of the great science the lab has been doing. But I wanted to highlight three things 

spring

SPRING 2013 EDITION

As usual, we’ve got a variety of news from the people around the lab, and links to stories talking about some of the great science the lab has been doing. But I wanted to highlight three things 

First, I’m delighted that we’re able to mention honors received by a couple of people who led LPL during the tumultuous years following the establishment of academic side, the Department of Planetary Sciences. Bill Hubbard, who was the director of LPL from 1977 to 1981, and has been on the faculty ever since, won the Blitzer Award for teaching, while Laurel Wilkening, who succeeded Bill as department head from 1981 to 1983, was honored by having an asteroid named after her. Those two were among the key figures in steering the transition from Gerard Kuiper’s planetary astronomy laboratory into a full-fledged academic department and a laboratory that specializes in just about everything. 

Second, at the other end of the career scale, we have reports on awards and honors that our graduate students have won. Most notably, Kathryn Volk won the College of Science’s award for the outstanding scholar in the college (out of nominees from nearly 20 departments), a notable accomplishment. Even better, it’s the second year in a row that a woman from LPL has won the award (Nikole Lewis won the award in 2012). 

And finally, in our ongoing effort to keep LPL as the premier university-based planetary sciences organization in the world, we have formed an advisory board of committed community, industry and academic leaders (some of them with LPL backgrounds). You can find them introduced in this newsletter, and we hope to be hearing about some of the initiatives they help us plan in the near future, as we build for the coming decades.

  Tim Swindle

Timothy D. Swindle, Ph.D. 
Department Head and Laboratory Director

Welcome to the Fall 2012 Edition!

Welcome to the Fall 2012 edition of the LPL newsletter! There are a couple of things new about the newsletter this time. For one thing, we are going retro, adding an abbreviated print edition to the online edition—if you’d like a copy of the print edition, please contact Mary Guerrieri, , 520-621-2828.

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Welcome to the Fall 2012 Edition!

Welcome to the Fall 2012 edition of the LPL newsletter! There are a couple of things new about the newsletter this time. For one thing, we are going retro, adding an abbreviated print edition to the online edition—if you’d like a copy of the print edition, please contact Mary Guerrieri, , 520-621-2828. One way to look at it is that the print edition is more for friends who want to know what LPL is and what great things we’ve been doing, while the online edition contains all the “family” stories—who graduated, who had a baby (there always seem to be enough to have at least a couple of cute baby pictures), who has been doing things in their lives that the rest of the extended family may not have heard about. As always, we’d love to hear from former LPLers, both alumni and former faculty and staff.

New, too, beginning with this edition, is a spotlight on donors and gifts to LPL. The Lunar and Planetary Laboratory has accomplished some amazing things over its five-decade history, in the research that has been accomplished, the students who have been educated, and the spacecraft missions, asteroid surveys, and other technical programs that have been operated. In an environment as creative as this, it’s not surprising that there are always a host of good ideas of things to do next. Some get funded (often by NASA), and become the success stories we all know. Many of these never get done because we never find a way to pay for them. Although we never expect gifts to replace the funding that we receive from the state for faculty salaries, or that we win in competitions for NASA grants and contracts, there are times when gifts make it possible for us to do things we couldn’t do otherwise, or do the things we do better.

Beginning with this newsletter, we’re going to try to spend a little space each time highlighting some gifts we have received, or specific activities that have been made possible by gifts. Also, we wanted you to know that there is a “wish list” of ideas that various people around the department have suggested. The full list contains about 40 items, ranging in amount from about $30 (for a subscription to a magazine for the department library) to about $20 million (to establish a world-class research center in an area where we already have a considerable amount of expertise, such as meteorite studies or theoretical astrophysics). We’d be glad to share the full list, but for now, the idea is just to provide food for thought.

For more information about opportunities for supporting LPL, contact me at . Or, if you already know you’re interested in helping out, you can just send a check, made payable to “University of Arizona Foundation” and with a note that it is for LPL, to our departmental address, 1629 E. University Blvd., Tucson AZ 85721. In the next few months, our web site will allow donors to give online.

In other news, it is my distinct pleasure to welcome Professor Joe Giacalone as the Assistant Department Head. Joe will primarily be responsible for curriculum issues at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Since he has extensive experience teaching at both levels, as well as having been deeply involved with the graduate program in a number of other ways, he is uniquely suited to the job, and I’m grateful to have him in a leadership role.

As far as department life goes, it has been less tumultuous than much of the roller-coaster ride of the last two or three years. We’ve been producing the same great science LPL has always been famous for. We have lots of stories of discoveries, from a measurement of the Yarkovsky effect to calculations showing that lithopanspermia is more possible than previously assumed. We have had some exciting events, from our graduate students taking over a museum for the summer to a flyover of the space shuttle to a well-attended event watching the Curiosity rover land (followed, of course, by a picture of the descent from the HiRISE team).

Enjoy the newsletter and be sure to forward news of your own!

Tim Swindle

Timothy D. Swindle, Ph.D.

Department Head and Laboratory Director

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