Dr. John Gregory to be recognized as an awardee of the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal at the 2014 Agency Honor Awards Ceremony at NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C. on August 14th, 2014
Dr. Gregory was nominated for his sustained and exceptional leadership in integrating research and education in space science and engineering over several decades.
"Following a National Academy of Science/National Research Council postdoctoral appointment at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), Dr. John C. Gregory joined the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) and made significant contributions to research in both high energy astrophysics and space environmental effects programs, designing, and building instrumentation that flew on 7 Shuttle flights and over 20 high altitude balloons. He received the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) Berman publication award and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Antarctic medal for this work.
New contributions were made to the understanding of both high-energy cosmic rays arriving at Earth and the effects of the space environment on the surfaces of materials placed in low Earth orbit. He later used this practical experience and contacts within NASA to develop programs for students to design and build space flight hardware on their own initiative. The portfolio of programs promulgated by Space Grant conceived and implemented by four Space Grant directors (including the nominee) is called ""Design, Build, Fly, Analyze."" The MSFC-sponsored and managed program, University Student Launch Initiative (USLI), was brought into the portfolio using the Space Grant network and has achieved great success across the country. In 2013, 57 students from 36 college/universities in 26 states participated in the competition. Students follow a flight program through a typical NASA mission profile, making trade-offs and decisions themselves but with the presence of expert advisors. Students from this club have made presentations at national meetings across the U.S. Projects are constrained by cost, time, and operational safety. This portfolio of programs includes small balloon-borne instruments (BalloonSats), the NASA/NRL-sponsored CanSat competition, picosatellites such as CubeSats, and others that now extend to thousands of students in all 50 states. An exemplar for how this is done is the Space Hardware Club at UAH, initiated and supported by the nominee in 2002. John assisted in establishing the NASA Academy in 1994. Since then the program expanded to include robotics and propulsion and has provided intensive research experiences to hundreds of students, many of whom decide on careers with NASA.
John has shown sustained and exceptional leadership in integrating research and education in space science and engineering over several decades at UAH. For the past 22 years he has directed the NASA Alabama Space Grant Consortium that includes all research universities in the state plus several community colleges and the NASA Alabama Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research, leading these to national prominence. For 7 years, he has held leadership positions in the National Space Grant program as Chairman of the National Council of Directors and of the National Space Grant Alliance, using those forums to develop novel programs for students to build and fly space hardware. He materially assisted the MSFC Education staff develop key programs such as the NASA Academy and USLI, bringing these to national prominence as well.
John has used his research experience, enthusiasm for space research and education, connections across NASA and leadership in the national Space Grant organization to bring inspirational educational experiences to students across Alabama and the U.S. He has had an indelible impact on NASA's educational and research success and is deemed worthy of this distinguished award."