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UH Astronomer Robert Joseph Receives NASA Public Service Medal

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Sep 24, 2004

NASA has awarded the NASA Public Service Medal to Dr. Robert Joseph. The citation, signed by the NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe, reads, "For outstanding leadership while serving as Director, Infrared Telescope Facility, enabling extraordinary planetary science research and exceptional contributions to the NASA Solar System Exploration mission."

Joseph served as the director of the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility (IRTF) for 11 years, making him the longest-serving director of this U.S. national observatory. He has been a faculty member at the Institute for Astronomy for 15 years and is currently the faculty chair. During Joseph's tenure as NASA IRTF director, the IRTF was awarded over $21 million in grants and contracts by NASA and the National Science Foundation for observatory operations, new focal plane instrumentation, enhancements of image quality, and facility renovation and modernization.

The NASA IRTF is the principal observatory in the United States that is dedicated to infrared studies of the solar system. It was established by NASA in 1979, and has been managed and operated by the University of Hawaii's Institute for Astronomy for the past 25 years. The observatory employs about 22 scientific, technical, and administrative staff, 17 of whom live on the Big Island.

Upon hearing of the award, IfA Director Rolf-Peter Kudritzki remarked that he was "very pleased to learn that one of the IfA's faculty members has received this honor" because "it shows that Dr. Joseph's achievements are highly regarded by NASA." He also said he holds Joseph "in the highest esteem as a researcher who contributes a great deal to the academic life of the Institute."

Joseph specializes in studies of the effects of collisions between galaxies. He has served on a number of national and international science committees, including the Science Council for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), the Gemini Observatory International Science Committee (most recently as chair), the Visiting Committee for the U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatories, and the Council of the Royal Astronomical Society. Joseph has also served on many proposal review panels, including those for the Hubble Space Telescope, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, and the Spitzer Space Telescope. He is on the editorial board of the journal Contemporary Physics.

The Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii conducts research into galaxies, cosmology, stars, planets, and the sun. Its faculty and staff are also involved in astronomy education, deep space missions, and in the development and management of the observatories on Haleakala and Mauna Kea. Refer to for more information about the Institute.

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