AOGS Axford Medal Award Recipient

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2014 - 2015
Professor Gary P. Zank

University of Alabama in Huntsville

The Asia and Oceania Geosciences Society (AOGS) is honoured to present the 2015 Axford Medal to Professor Gary Zank For his seminal contributions to our understanding of evolution and properties of solar wind MHD turbulence, structures in the outer heliosphere, and particle acceleration and transport throughout the heliosphere; and for his exceptional leadership in the general space plasma community and development of space physics within Asia and Oceania.

Professor Zank is the founder and the current Chair of the Department of Space Science of the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He also serves as the director of the Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research (CSPAR) at UAHuntsville. Professor Zank has made numerous, seminal contributions across a broad range of space physics while promoting space science/geoscience across the United States, South Africa and across the Pacific Ocean.

Professor Zank has co-authored 29 papers that have been cited more than 100 times, 8 of which have been cited more than 200 times. These highly cited papers show the breadth, the impact, and the international recognition of Professor Zank's work. In these papers Professor Gary Zank have provided the definitive understanding and paradigms for a wide range of heliospheric problems. He has made seminal advances in 1) our understanding of the interaction of the solar wind with the interstellar medium, 2) turbulence and waves in the solar wind, 3) the acceleration of particles at shock waves, and their subsequent transport throughout the heliosphere, 4) the physics of shock waves, and 5) the interaction of the solar wind with non-magnetized bodies.

Professor Zank is also well known for his exceptional leadership skills and his ability to build major programs in Space Physics in several places. In 2001, Professor Zank joined the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (IGPP) at the University of California, Riverside as the director. Over the next 5 years, IGPP tripled its size and more than quadrupled its external funding. Five postdocs joined Professor Zank's group within this period. In recognition of Professor Zank's leadership and administrative abilities across the entire University of California system, he was named system-wide director of the IGPP for the entire UC system over 7 campuses. In 2008, Professor Zank moved to the University of Alabama in Huntsville, taking on a new challenge as director of the CSPAR. In 2013, a new department of Space Science was created at the University - this happened almost single-handedly because of Professor Zank's efforts. He led and oversaw every aspect of the process. His vision of creating a new department with a focus on Space Science and Astrophysics paid off immediately: overnight, UAH became recognized as a world-leading venue for space science research; making UAH one top choice (world-wide) of graduate students in the field of Space Science. The founding of the new department reflects the recognition of Professor Zank's leadership in the field by the President of UAH and the Board of Trustees.

Professor Zank's leadership is also recognized across the world, and his collaborations with scientists, young and old, post-docs and established scientists, are legendary. He has supported students, post-docs, and researchers from almost every AOGS country, and has spent time in India, Japan, Australia, China, Singapore, Taiwan, on various occasions. The visitor offices of CSPAR are filled with visitors from China, India, Japan, New Zealand, Australia, and other AOGS nations, illustrating in a very practical way his strong support and unselfish cooperation in space science throughout Asia and Oceania.

Professor Zank's recognition in Space Physics, both nationally and internationally, can be seen from his winning of the National Science Foundation's Presidential Young Investigator award, the COSPAR Zeldovich medal, along with numerous other awards. He is also a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Physical Society, and the American Geophysical Union. Professor Zank has been frequently compared to Sir Ian Axford, with whom he worked closely as a post doc.