Dr. Ghassem R. Asrar serves as USRA’s Senior Vice President, Science. providing leadership and direction for the programs in the science portfolio at USRA.
He has decades of experience spanning service in the U.S. government, international organizations, and academe. Prior to joining USRA, Dr. Asrar was the Director of the Joint Global Change Research Institute of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory located at the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland. Before that, he served as the Director of World Climate Research Program (WCRP) in Geneva, Switzerland from 2008-2013, the Deputy Administrator for Natural Resources and Agricultural Systems with Agricultural Research Service (ARS), of the U.S. Department of Agriculture from 2006-2008, and he was with the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from 1987-2005.
In 1998, Dr. Asrar was named Associate Administrator for Earth Science at NASA. During his tenure, NASA achieved successful launches of more than 20 Earth-observing research and operational environmental satellites. He also guided the development of a comprehensive data and information system to manage a record amount of unique information resulting from these satellites that served more than 2 million users each year. He established the NASA Earth System Science graduate fellowship and New Investigators Program to support education and training of the next generation of scientists, engineers, and technology experts.
Dr. Asrar also served as the chief scientist for the Earth Observing System in NASA’s Office of Earth Science, prior to becoming Associate Administrator.
Dr. Asrar is a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union; the American Meteorological Society; and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Among his many awards and honors are the U.S. Presidential Distinguished Senior Executive Service Award; the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Space Systems Award; the American Geophysical Union Ambassador Award; and the American Meteorological Society Cleveland Abbey Award. In 2019, he was conferred an honorary doctoral degree by the University of Zurich. Dr. Asrar earned his Ph.D. in Environmental Physics from Michigan State University.