Geological Society of America Establishes the "Farouk El-Baz Student Award" to Promote Desert Research

in College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, News Releases, Science & Technology
April 5th, 2007

Contact: Kira Jastive, 617-358-1240 |

(Boston) – Boston University today announced that the Geological Society of America (GSA) has established the “Farouk El-Baz Student Award” to encourage and promote desert research throughout the world. The award is named in honor of Dr. Farouk El-Baz, noted geologist and expert on the origin and evolution of desert landforms who directs the Boston University Center for Remote Sensing.

The award fund of $100,000 was generously provided by the Qatar Foundation as an endowment. Up to one male and one female student will be awarded $2,500 each, based on a proposal for arid land research and a recommendation by an advisor. The GSA Committee on Research Grants will select awardees.

“Deserts have received far les attention than other types of landforms in geological studies. This award aims to encourage more students to pursue investigations of arid lands, which constitute over one-third of the land surface of our planet,” said El-Baz. “It’s an important area of science deserving of increased scientific investigations.”

In 1999, the GSA established the “Farouk El-Baz Award for Desert Research,” to recognize excellence in arid land studies. An annual distribution of $10,000 has been awarded to leading experts in desert research from the international scientific community. The new award is designed to encourage more students to enter the field of desert study.

“The Geological Society of America is very excited about this new award and the scientific contributions to desert science it will support,” said Dr. Stephen G. Wells, GSA president and president of the Desert Research Institute, Nevada System of Higher Education. “We are deeply grateful for the generosity of the Qatar Foundation and for the leadership of its chair, H.H. Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned. We are also very appreciative of the remarkable efforts of Dr. El-Baz, a trustee of the GSA, in advancing and promoting desert research by GSA members.”

Applicants for the student award need not be geologists or U.S. citizens. Additional information available on the GSA Foundation Web site:

Dr. El-Baz, a veteran of NASA’s Apollo program, is research professor and director of the Boston University Center for Remote Sensing. He is renowned for pioneering research in the applications of satellite images to study deserts worldwide, with emphasis on the location of groundwater resources. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering and serves on its committee to identify “Grand Challenges for Engineering” in the next century.

The Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development is a private, chartered, non-profit organization. It was founded in 1995 by the Emir of the State of Qatar to develop centers for progressive education, research and community welfare. It is chaired by H.H. Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, consort of the Emir of Qatar.

The Geological Society of America is a non-profit, professional organization with over 20,000 members in 85 countries. Among its aims is the promotion of the geo-sciences in the service of humanity. Its awards are managed by the GSA Foundation at 330 Penrose Place, Boulder, CO.

Founded in 1839, Boston University is an internationally recognized institution of higher education and research. With more than 30,000 students, it is the fourth largest independent university in the United States. BU contains 17 colleges and schools along with a number of multi-disciplinary centers and institutes which are central to the school’s research and teaching mission.

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