UI Physics Professor Named Chair of National Planetary Sciences Organization

Thursday, August 14 2014

MOSCOW, Idaho – Aug. 14, 2014 – The American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences (DPS) has elected University of Idaho associate professor of physics Jason Barnes its future chair. Barnes will begin his role as vice-chair in November 2014 and take the helm as chair in November 2015.

The DPS counts nearly 1,200 planetary scientists and astronomers among its membership in the United States and abroad. DPS is the largest special-interest division of the American Astronomical Society, which is the major organization of professional astronomers in North America. Its membership of about 7,000 individuals includes physicists, mathematicians, geologists, engineers and others whose research and educational interests lie within the broad spectrum of subjects comprising contemporary astronomy. The mission of the AAS and its divisions is to enhance and share humanity’s scientific understanding of the universe. 

“We in the College of Science are very pleased to have a faculty member with such a high profile within the planetary science community,” said Paul Joyce, dean of the UI College of Science. “In fact, Carl Sagan was about Dr. Barnes’ age when he first served as chair of the Division for Planetary Sciences some 40 years ago, so Jason is in good company.” 

Barnes said he is excited to support the DPS, of which he’s been a member since he was a student. As chair he plans to modernize the organization’s communications and streamline interactions with its members, as well as present its priorities to Congress and the Obama administration and advocate for NASA funding for planetary science projects. 

“We really want to be laying the groundwork for the awesome missions that will be grabbing people’s attention 10 years from now,” Barnes said.

Barnes will end his time as chair at the October 2016 DPS meeting in Pasadena, California, which will be held jointly with the European Planetary Science Congress.

 Barnes earned his doctorate in planetary science from the University of Arizona in 2004 and came to UI in 2008. He studies the physics of planets and planetary systems, using NASA spacecraft data to study planets that orbit stars other than the Sun (extrasolar planets) and the composition and nature of the surface of Saturn's moon Titan.

His recent projects include discovering evidence of waves in Titan’s methane seas.

About UI
The University of Idaho is one of only 72 land-grant research universities across the country. Home to nearly 12,000 students, the UI is a leader in student-centered learning and excels at interdisciplinary research, service to businesses and communities and in advancing diversity, citizenship and global outreach.  U-Idaho is home to the Vandals and competes in the Big Sky Conference and Sun Belt Conference.  Learn more: www.uidaho.edu.


Jason Barnes
UI associate professor of physics

Tara Roberts
University Communications
(208) 885-7725

About the University of Idaho
The University of Idaho helps students to succeed and become leaders. Its land-grant mission furthers innovative scholarly and creative research to grow Idaho's economy and serve a statewide community. From its main campus in Moscow, Idaho, to 70 research and academic locations statewide, U-Idaho emphasizes real-world application as part of its student experience. U-Idaho combines the strength of a large university with the intimacy of small learning communities. It is home to the Vandals. For information, visit www.uidaho.edu.