Chief scientist for NASA to give convocation address for L.C. Smith
NASA’s chief scientist, Waleed Abdalati ’86, will deliver the 2012 address to bachelor’s degree candidates of Syracuse University’s L.C. Smith College of Engineering and Computer Science at the college’s convocation ceremony on Saturday, May 12, at 9 a.m. in Manley Field House.
Abdalati was appointed NASA chief scientist in January 2011, serving as the principal adviser to the NASA administrator on NASA science programs, strategic planning and the evaluation of related investments. He is currently on leave from his position as director of the University of Colorado’s Earth Science and Observation Center, which carries out research and education activities on the use of remote sensing observations to understand the Earth. Waleed is also a fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences at the University. His research has focused on the use of satellites and aircraft to understand how and why Earth’s ice cover is changing, and what those changes mean for life on our planet.
His appointment as chief scientist marks a return to NASA, where he worked from 1996-2008 as head of the Cryospheric Sciences Branch at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, manager of NASA’s Cryospheric Sciences Program at NASA headquarters and researcher at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in the Oceans and Ice Branch, where he analyzed satellite and aircraft measurements of glaciers and ice sheets to assess their contributions to sea-level rise.
Abdalati received a bachelor of science degree from SU in 1986, a master of science degree from the University of Colorado in 1991 and a Ph.D. from University of Colorado in 1996. In the mid 1980s, before returning to graduate school, he worked as an engineer in the aerospace industry, designing, analyzing and testing components of various spacecraft and submarine systems.
He has published more than 50 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters and NASA-related technical reports, with approximately 1,500 citations in the peer-reviewed literature. He has given numerous featured lectures and keynote addresses, as well as public lectures at the Smithsonian Institution, the American Museum of Natural History and the Adler Planetarium, among others. Abdalati has received various awards and recognition, most notably the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from the White House.