Professor Martin H. Israel receives Distinguished Service Award

McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences presents Distinguished Service Award to Martin Israel

Professor Martin "Marty" Israel obtained his Bachelors in physics from the University of Chicago in 1962, and his PhD from California Institute of Technology in 1969. During his graduate studies at Caltech, Marty attended Richard Feynman's lectures, where his recordings of the lectures and photographs of the blackboards provided raw material for the famous book, The Feynman Lectures on Physics.  He came to Washington University in 1968 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics.


In 1974, Marty, by then an Associate Professor, was deeply involved in the formation of the McDonnell Center.  James S. McDonnell, "Mr. Mac", was already supporting space science at Washington University by providing 5 years of funding for the McDonnell Professor, Bob Walker, as well as money to support graduate student fellowships, which was given in memory of the astronauts who died in the Apollo 1 fire.  Chancellor Bill Danforth, began working with Bob Walker, with help from Marty, to entice Mr. Mac to give greatly expanded long-term support to space sciences at Washington University.  Marty played a major role in formulating the presentation that they gave to Mr. Mac, as well as the formal proposal for funding of what then became the McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences, the "Mac Center.”


The outcome was that Mr. Mac gave a generous sum of money that allowed the funding of the McDonnell Center in early 1975.  Today the endowment supports eight professorships, four in physics and four in Earth and Planetary Sciences, several graduate and undergraduate fellowships, and research grants.  This endowment was vital to the rebirth of Washington University's old Geology Department, which was dramatically expanded with four new positions and renamed the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences.


In recognition of the role Professor Israel played in the formation of the McDonnell Center for the Spaces Sciences, and the outstanding research he and his colleagues carried out in the field of cosmic rays, he was presented with a salver inscribed appropriately for the occasion on March 29, 2018.


Marty played an important role in many of the following faculty searches, including those that recruited Larry Haskin, who became chair of Earth and Planetary Sciences, and Cliff Will, who became one of the most prominent members of the physics department.


Marty went on to make his name as a leading cosmic ray experimentalist. He was principal investigator of the Heavy Nuclei Experiment, which flew on the HEOS 3 mission in 1979.  He was appointed Associate Director of the Mac Center in 1982.


But even greater things beckoned. Marty became Dean of Arts and Sciences in 1987 and Vice Chancellor for Academic Planning in 1995 under the newly arrived Chancellor Mark Wrighton.


In 1997 he returned to research and regular academic life in the physics department, again raising the profile of the department in cosmic ray physics though his work with Professor Bob Binns on analysis of data from the Advanced Composition Explorer's CRIS experiment, and more recently they have worked together on the TIGER and Super-TIGER South Pole balloon experiments.


Through this whole trajectory, Marty has been an important resource for the directors of the McDonnell Center. He was Associate Director of the McDonnell Center, he stepped in as acting director of the center when Bob Walker took a year away, and for the last few years he has acted as an advisor for Professor Ramanath Cowsik, the current director.


Marty has previously been the recipient of awards such as the Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, the NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Award, and the Academy of Science of St. Louis, Fellows Award, and most recently the Dean’s Medal for his dedication and support of Arts & Sciences, at Washington University. We are pleased to add this award for his many contributions to space science and to the McDonnell Center for the Space Sciences at Washington University.


Award presented on behalf of the McDonnell Center by Professor Mark Alford, Chair, Department of Physics, Washington University in St. Louis.

Invitation for research papers honoring the work of Dr. Christine Floss