Press Release

Universities Space Research Association Announces 2020 Elections to its Board and Council of Institutions Positions

By SpaceRef Editor
May 8, 2020
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Universities Space Research Association (USRA), an association of 113 universities, announces the election results from its annual meeting for its Board of Trustees and Council of Institutions.  Dr. Renu Malhotra of the University of Arizona was elected to serve as Chair of the 113-member Council, Dr. Brian E. Gilchrist of the University of Michigan was elected Vice Chair of the Council, and Dr. Robert P. McCoy of the University of Alaska Fairbanks was elected to serve as Region IX Trustee.  The Board of Trustees is the governing board of USRA.

Dr. William F. Ballhaus, Chair of the Board of Trustees said, “I am very pleased to welcome Drs. Malhotra, Gilchrist, and McCoy to their new positions on the USRA Board.  We are fortunate to have such distinguished individuals offer their time and energy to the governance of the Association.”

Dr. Jeffrey A. Isaacson, USRA President and CEO, said: “I very much look forward to working with Drs. Malhotra, Gilchrist, and McCoy. They bring recognized expertise in key space-related disciplines, along with an understanding of our sponsors’ needs and first-hand knowledge of the communities we serve.”

Dr. Malhotra is the Louis Foucar Marshall Science Research Professor and Regents Professor of Planetary Sciences at The University of Arizona.  She is an expert in orbital mechanics and dynamical chaos in planetary systems and maintains an interest in the astronomical conditions relevant to habitability of planets.  Her work in planetary dynamics has spanned a wide range of topics, including extra-solar planets and debris disks around nearby stars, the moons of the giant planets, the formation and evolution of the Kuiper belt and the asteroid belt, and the meteoritic bombardment history of the planets. Dr. Malhotra is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Dr. Gilchrist is Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Professor of Climate and Space Sciences and Engineering, and Director of the Space Physics Research Laboratory/XTRM Labs at the University of Michigan.  Dr. Gilchrist specializes in experimental plasma electrodynamics, principally for in-space applications with a focus on plasma sensors and electric propulsion.  His research activities span the development of advanced space electric propulsion applications, in-space plasma effects and measurements, and ground-based experimental simulations of high-speed space plasma flows to investigate current collection and sheath physics.  Dr. Gilchrist is Principal Investigator for the NASA Miniature Tether Electrodynamics Experiment (MiTEE) CubeSat Mission, scheduled to fly in summer 2020. He was Co-Investigator and Instrument Principal Investigator for the NASA MSFC ProSEDS electrodynamic tether mission, and also was experiment Principal Investigator for the Shuttle Electrodynamics Tether System on the NASA TSS-1R mission.

Dr. McCoy is Director of the Geophysical Institute at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.  The Institute is home to approximately 330 faculty, staff and students, who do research in seven geophysical disciplines, including: space physics and aeronomy; atmospheric science; remote sensing; volcanology; seismology; snow, ice and permafrost; and tectonics and sedimentation. The Institute is also home to eight major operational programs, including Poker Flat Research Range, which is the largest land-based rocket range in the world.  Before coming to the University, Dr. McCoy worked for the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and the Office of Naval Research (ONR).  While at NRL, Dr. McCoy was principal investigator for 23 sounding rocket, satellite and International Space Station experiments and operational sensors to study the upper atmosphere and ionosphere.  Dr. McCoy is a Fellow of the American Meteorological Society and was awarded the Society’s STAC Outstanding Service Award for Space Weather in 2018.

About USRA

Founded in 1969, under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences at the request of the U.S. Government, the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is a nonprofit corporation chartered to advance space-related science, technology and engineering.  USRA operates scientific institutes and facilities, and conducts other major research and educational programs, under Federal funding.  USRA engages the university community and employs in-house scientific leadership, innovative research and development, and project management expertise. More information about USRA is available at

About USRA Governance

USRA governance is grounded in the university community. USRA is an association of 113 universities engaged in space- and aeronautics-related research and education. University representatives compose the Council of Institutions. The Council establishes the corporate bylaws and conducts elections for members of the Board of Trustees.  The Board has fifteen members, including nine regional trustees (one for each of nine geographic regional groups of universities), four at-large trustees, the Chair of the Council of Institutions, and the President and CEO (who is appointed by the Board).

SpaceRef staff editor.