Year in Review 2002: Incredible Science

Lori Stiles
Dec. 5, 2002

UA scientists this year won research grants that ensure this institution remains a major player in astronomy and interplanetary exploration, that its students will have matchless opportunities in biology and that the UA will expand its leadership in new optical and nanotechnologies.

  • Some highlights:
  • Three UA scientists were selected to play major roles in the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble. Astronomy Professor Marcia Rieke and her team will provide the telescope's near-infrared camera; astronomy Professor George Rieke and his team will provide the telescope's mid-infrared instrument. Planetary sciences Professor Jonathan Lunine was chosen to be on the working group that will guide scientific development of the telescope.
  • UA planetary sciences Professor William V. Boynton's Gamma Ray Spectrometer on the Mars Odyssey was successfully deployed and has discovered great amounts of water ice at both the martian north and south poles.
  • Lunar and Planetary Laboratory scientist Peter H. Smith in June was selected as a member of the science team for the Mars Exploration Rover (MER) mission to be launched next year and land on Mars in early 2004. In December, NASA selected Smith's proposed "Phoenix" mission to Mars as one of four candidates for a first Mars Scout mission, cost-capped at $325 million, for launch in 2007.
  • UA broke ground for a $17 million addition to the Meinel Optical Sciences Center to be completed in 2004. It will increase the center by 47,000 square feet and includes extensive retrofitting of the center's present facilities. It will include an entry-level plaza, state-of-the-art teaching and research labs, a new exhibit-intensive lobby, an expanded reading room, six floors of faculty offices, several conference rooms and a large conference center.
  • The Howard Hughes Medical Institute awarded UA $1.8 million for undergraduate biology education. Since HHMI's first competition to improve undergraduate education in the biological sciences, UA has garnered grants totaling $7.5 million in four consecutive rounds of the program. UA President Peter Likins said, " No single program better expresses the commitment of the UA to the integration of teaching and research, to the value of learning through discovery. The HHMI program to improve undergraduate education in the biological sciences has set standards that now pervade our entire university in its devotion to the precepts of learner centered education."
  • The National Science Foundation awarded a $1 million, 5-year renewal grant to the UA's unique Nyanza Project. Directed by UA geosciences Professor Andrew Cohen, it will train U.S. university students and high school teachers in lake science research at one of the world's most scientificially important lakes, Lake Tanganyika. Earlier this year, Cohen and UA geoscientist David Dettman won $2 million from the NSF to core Africa's Lake Malawi for a continous climate record going back millions of years. Both these lakes are in a part of the world that may drive global climate and where humans first evolved.
  • UA scientists won major honors for their innovative teaching and research contributions. The National Science Foundation awarded UA astronomer Christopher Impey its highest honor for excellence in both teaching and research, its Director's Award for Distinguished Teaching Scholars. UA chemist Victor Hruby was honored by the American Chemical Society for his lifetime contribution to peptide chemistry with the Ralph F. Hirschmann Award, and UA chemist Jean-Luc Bredas was listed by the Institute of Scientific Information among the 100 most-cited researchers in chemistry for the years 1992 – 2002. Ray Goldstein, Sumit Mazumdar and Fulvio Melia were elected by their peers as Fellows of the American Physical Society.
  • Seven UA faculty were named Fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for 2002. They are Jonathan Lunine, planetary sciences; David W. Galbraith, plant sciences; Elizabeth Vierling, biochemistry; Seth Marder, chemistry; D. Terence Langendorn, linguistics; Charlene McQueen, pharmacology and toxicology; and Merrill Garrett, psychology.