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Alumni Receive International Physics Awards

Two prominent St. Mary’s University alumni recently received international recognition from the Committee on Space Research (COSPAR) for their contributions to the study of space. The awards were presented in July at the COSPAR Scientific Assembly in Montreal, Canada.

James L. Burch, Ph.D., vice president of the Space Science and Engineering Division of Southwest Research Institute, was awarded the inaugural Jeoujang Jaw Award from COSPAR and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Burch received a physics degree from St. Mary’s in 1964.

The award recognizes scientists who have made distinguished pioneering contributions to promoting space research, establishing new space science research branches and founding new exploration programs. It is named in honor of Professor Jeoujang Jaw, a pioneer in advocating physics and new technologies in earth science.

Burch received the award in recognition of his leadership on the NASA Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) mission, which provided the first images of Earth’s magnetosphere and demonstrated how the transport of charged particles in the Earth’s environment responds to variation in solar wind.

Giovanni Fazio, Ph.D., who is a senior physicist with the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, a lecturer in the Astronomy Department at Harvard University and a faculty member of the International Space University in Strasbourg, France, was awarded the Massey Award from COSPAR and the Royal Society of London. Fazio received degrees in physics and chemistry from St. Mary’s in 1954.

The Massey Award is given in memory of physicist Sir Harrie Massey and recognizes outstanding contributions and leadership to the development of space research. Fazio was a principal investigator for the Infrared Array Camera (IRAC) experiment on the NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope, which was launched in 2003 and continues to produce spectacular images of the infrared universe. His current research interests include the development of infrared instrumentation and the use of infrared array cameras on ground-based and space telescopes to observe galaxy formation and evolution.

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