Dr. Ghassem R. Asrar is the Director of Joint Global Change Research Institute of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory located at the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, USA. Prior to this position, he served as the Director of World Climate Research Program (WCRP) in Geneva, Switzerland from 2008-2013, the Deputy Administrator for Natural Resources and Agricultural Systems with Agricultural Research Service (ARS), of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 2006-2008, and a member of senior executive leadership at the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from 1987-2006.
Dr. Asrar served as the chief scientist for the Earth Observing System in the Office of Earth Science at NASA Headquarters prior to being named as the Associate Administrator for Earth Science in 1998. He led an international team of scientists developing the scientific priorities and observations to be accomplished by a series of advanced Earth-orbiting satellites enabling fundamental new insights into the connections between Earth’s land, oceans, atmosphere, cryopshere and life. He established the NASA Earth System Science graduate fellowship and the New Investigators Post-doctoral Programs to support training of the next generation of Earth scientists and engineers. During his tenure as Associate Administrator for Earth Science, NASA program achieved successful launches of more than 22 Earth observing research and operational environmental satellites together with a comprehensive data and information system to manage record amount of unique information resulting from these satellites that are used by several million users.
Dr. Asrar is the recipient of U.S. Presidential Distinguished Executive Award (2002), an elected Fellow of American Meteorological Society (2001), IEEE (2000), and American Geophysical Union (2014). He has received numerous awards and honors, including the NASA Exceptional Performance Award (1997), the AIAA Goddard Memorial Lecture Medal (1998), NASA Exceptional Service Medal (1999), NASA Distinguished Leadership Medal (2000), the U.S. Presidential Executive Service Award (2002), the Space System Award from the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, (2006), Distinguished and Outstanding Alumni Awards from the Michigan State University (2008), and the American Geophysical Union Ambassador Award (2014).
Dr. Asrar earned graduate degrees in civil engineering and environmental physics from Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan. He conducted research and trained undergraduate and post-graduate students for nine years in academia prior to joining NASA as a visiting scientist in 1987. He has authored more than 150 peer-reviewed scientific and technical papers, primarily in the fields of biosphere and atmosphere studies, and has edited several reference and textbooks. Dr. Asrar has been invited speaker at several hundred scientific, technical and education conferences. He serves as chief editor and member of editorial boards of several scientific journals, the chair and member of numerous national and international scientific and technical committees for evaluating academic and national environmental research and education programs in Africa, Asia, Europe and USA.