Ad Astra Kansas

Astronaut Steve Hawley comes home to Kansas to teach, promote science education

February 26, 2008

LAWRENCE - Astronaut Steve Hawley is coming home to Planet Jayhawk.

University of Kansas Chancellor Robert Hemenway announced yesterday that Hawley, a Salina native and 1973 KU graduate in physics and astronomy, will join the university faculty this fall to teach and to promote education in science and math.

“Science education is vital to the future of this state and nation,”  Hemenway said.  “We need people like Steve to build a new excitement and urgency about science and math education.”

“In my career, I have literally had the chance to see the world,” Hawley said. “But today there is no place else I would rather be.  It is good to be home.  Working with students at KU and across Kansas is a wonderful opportunity to share what I have seen and encourage them to set high goals and go out and discover what this world has to offer.” 

NASA selected Hawley to be an astronaut in 1978.  He became the third Kansan to fly in space.  His first shuttle experience, in 1984, was the maiden flight of the shuttle Discovery.  During his 1990 flight aboard Discovery,  the crew deployed the Hubble Space Telescope, and he returned to Hubble on the second servicing mission in 1997.  During his 1999 flight, the crew deployed the Chandra X-ray Observatory–the third of NASA’s space observatories.  He has logged more than 32 days in space. 

From 2001 to 2002, He was director of Flight Crew Operations at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. He is now director of astromaterials research and exploration science at NASA.

KU has a rich history in astronomy, starting with alumnus Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered Pluto in 1930. Other Kansas astronauts–also KU graduates– were Ron Evans and Joe Engle.

KU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy has 25 faculty members and offers undergraduate and graduate degree programs. Faculty research draws $3.7 million a year in external funding for studies in large scale (solar system, galaxy and universe by astronomy, cosmology and space physics groups); small scale (nuclear, high energy and astroparticle physics groups); and bulk matter physics (condensed matter and biophysics groups).  Strong interdisciplinary programs exist in biophysics, nano-bio science, accelerator physics and astrobiology.

Source:  KU News Release


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