Alexander N. Halliday will become the director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute in spring 2018, the university announced this past December. Halliday, a geochemistry professor at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom and vice president of the U.K.’s Royal Society, will succeed economist Jeffrey Sachs, who continues his tenure as a university professor and director of the Earth Institute’s Center for Sustainable Development. Halliday’s research in isotope geochemistry has helped to shape the understanding of the formation and evolution of planets in our solar system and the natural processes that modulate climate here on Earth. Halliday received the American Geophysical Union’s 2016 Harry H. Hess Medal for his scientific work. As head of Oxford’s science and engineering division between 2007 and 2015, he launched several building projects, greatly expanded the number of postdoctoral research students, focused attention on diversity, and strengthened Oxford’s ties with government and the private sector. As a professor in Columbia’s Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Halliday will divide his time between Columbia’s Morningside campus in New York City and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, N.Y., where he will establish his geochemistry lab.
The Council of the European Space Agency (ESA) has appointed Günther Hasinger as the agency’s next director of science. Hasinger, currently director of the Institute for Astronomy of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, will succeed Alvaro Giménez, who has headed ESA science since 2011. Hasinger is a world leader in the field of X-ray astronomy and in the study of black holes. Together with his colleagues, he resolved the cosmic X-ray background radiation into distinct objects, which were then identified mainly as active black holes in distant galaxies. Hasinger, the recipient of numerous awards for his research and scientific achievement, has also played a key role in the operation of X-ray satellites and the development of future observatories.
The Group on Earth Observations has appointed Gilberto Câmara as its next secretariat director, effective 1 July 2018. Câmara is a leading researcher in geoinformatics, geographical information science, and land use change with Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research. He has been recognized internationally for promoting free access and open-source software for Earth observation data. Câmara cochairs the Belmont Forum, an international consortium of funding agencies of global environmental change research.
The board of directors of the Space Foundation has elected Gen. William Shelton, USAF (Ret.), to a 2-year term as chairman of the board. Shelton, former commander of the Air Force Space Command, succeeds previous chairman Adm. James Ellis Jr., USN (Ret.), whom the board elected as director emeritus. Also at the November board meeting, Kathryn Thornton, a professor at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville and a former NASA astronaut, was elected to a 2-year term as vice chair. Author and political satirist P. J. O’Rourke was elected to a 2-year term as secretary, and Hoyt Davidson, managing partner with Near Earth, was reelected treasurer. Also on the executive committee is member-at-large and director emeritus Lon Levin, president and CEO of GEOshare, and Rear Adm. Thomas Zelibor, USN (Ret.), Space Foundation CEO. Elected as life directors were Richard Ambrose, executive vice president of Lockheed Martin Space Systems; John Elbon, vice president and general manager of Boeing Space Exploration; and Kay Sears, vice president for strategy and business development of Lockheed Martin Space Systems. Newly elected board members include Christopher Browne, deputy director, National Air and Space Museum; Lisa Callahan, vice president and general manager for commercial civil space, Lockheed Martin Space Systems; James Chilton, senior vice president for space and missile systems, Boeing Defense, Space & Security; William Gattle, president of Harris Corporation Space and Intelligence Systems; Peter Trainer, vice president and Air Force operations manager, Science Applications International Corporation; and Phil Larson, assistant dean and chief of staff of the College of Engineering and Applied Science, University of Colorado Boulder. Larsen will be the Space Foundation New Generation Space Leader. The foundation announced these new officers and terms this past November.
Mihai Ducea is a new science editor of GSA Today, replacing Steven Whitmeyer of James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va., who rotated out of the position. Ducea is a professor of geology at the University of Arizona in Tucson, where he runs a geochemical and radiogenic isotope laboratory. Ducea, who also holds a courtesy appointment at the University of Bucharest in Romania, conducts research aimed at understanding the links between igneous and metamorphic petrologic processes and the tectonic evolution of continents. Gerald “Jerry” Dickens, a professor in the Department of Earth Science of Rice University in Houston, Texas, continues his term as a GSA Today science editor through December 2018.