Press Release

Planetary Society Welcomes Three Scientists to Board of Directors

By SpaceRef Editor
November 18, 2005
Filed under ,

The Planetary Society introduced the three newest members of its Board of Directors at its 25th Anniversary Gala Awards Dinner on November,12, 2005:   James Bell of Cornell University, Heidi Hammel of the Space Science Institute, and George Yancopoulos of Regeneron Laboratories.

“We are delighted and honored to gain new talent on our Board,” said Neil deGrasse Tyson, Chair of the Society’s Board of Directors.   

“Adding Jim Bell, Heidi Hammel and George Yancopoulos to our Board will position us well for our next quarter century, especially with regard to the search for life, ” added Louis Friedman, Executive Director of The Planetary Society.

All three new members of the board attended the awards dinner in Arcadia, California, that presented the Thomas O. Paine Award for the Advancement of Human Exploration of Mars  to science-fiction author Ray Bradbury and the Cosmos Award for Outstanding Public Presentation of Science to film-maker James Cameron.

Jim Bell has been exploring Mars for several years, most recently as lead scientist for the Pancam color imaging system on the Mars Exploration Rovers.   Bell served as the science team liaison for The Planetary Society’s Red Rover Goes to Mars student program and the sundial experiment on the Mars Exploration Rovers.   A professor of astronomy at Cornell University, his studies primarily focus on the geology, chemistry, and mineralogy of planets, asteroids, and comets using data obtained from telescopes and spacecraft missions.

Heidi Hammel is a Senior Research Scientist at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.  Prior to that she was a Research Scientist in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences at MIT.   Hammel gained international recognition  as leader of the Hubble Space Telescope Team that imaged the impact of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 into Jupiter, investigating Jupiter’s atmospheric response to the collisions.  Her studies focus on outer planets and their satellites. 

A graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, George Yancopoulos received his MD and PhD degrees in 1987 from Columbia University’s College of Physicians & Surgeons.  In 1989, he became the founding scientist for Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, where he is now the President and Chief Scientific Officer.   Many of the discoveries of Dr. Yancopoulos and his group are in clinical studies to address immunologic disorders (such as asthma and rheumatoid arthritis), cancer, and vascular disease.

For more information on the Society’s three new board members, visit


For more information, contact Susan Lendroth at phone: (626) 793-5100 ext. 237, e-mail:


The Planetary Society has inspired millions of people to explore other worlds and seek other life. Today, its international membership makes the non-governmental Planetary Society the largest space interest group in the world.  Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray and Louis Friedman founded The Planetary Society in 1980.

SpaceRef staff editor.