AUSTIN, Texas—Melba Crawford, a mechanical engineering professor at The University of Texas at Austin, has been named a member of the first class of Jefferson Science Fellows at the U.S. Department of State.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell on Wednesday (May 26) introduced Crawford and four other tenured professors from American universities at a ceremony in Washington, D.C. The professors will work at the State Department for a year and remain available to the department as consultants for five years.
The other fellows are: Dr. Julian Adams, University of Michigan, evolutionary biology; Dr. Bruce Averill, University of Toledo, biochemistry; Dr. David Eastmond, University of California at Riverside, toxicology; and Dr. Kalidas Shetty, University of Massachusetts at Amherst, microbiology.
The fellows were chosen for their scientific achievements, articulation and communication skills, abilities to accurately describe scientific topics for non-scientific audiences, and their interest in science policy.
Their role will be to advise and educate. Through participation in policy discussions, they will help increase the understanding among policy officials of complex, cutting-edge scientific issues, and they will advise policy makers on the wider international implications of emerging scientific issues.
“Just as in the days of Franklin and Jefferson, American scientists and diplomats share a common goal today: They both seek to apply the best knowledge we have to the most significant challenges we face,” Powell said at the ceremony. “This is the spirit of science. This is the spirit of freedom that animates America and inspires our thinkers and scientists to improve the lives of their fellow human beings.”
Crawford, an Engineering Foundation Endowed Professor in the College of Engineering, heads the remote sensing and image processing group at the university’sCenter for Space Research. Remote sensing involves analyzing information aboutthe Earth’s natural resources gathered by satellites.
Crawford has collaborated with colleagues in other fields and locations around the world. Her work includes research about wildfires in the Great Victoria Desert in Australia, the Okavango River in southern Africa, the ancient Greek city of Chersonesos and the spread of Ash Juniper trees on the Edwards Plateau in Texas.
“Remote sensing in and of itself is a discipline, but it’s an enabling discipline because it’s supportive of so many kinds of research,” she said.
Crawford received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her doctor’s degree from The Ohio State University.
The Jefferson Science Fellows program is supported by grants from the MacArthur Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation on a three-year pilot basis, in addition to financial support from participating American universities. A broad range of professional societies and organizations have also endorsed the program.
For more information contact: Tim Green, 512-423-5806.