BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – September 25, 2014 – Michael Gazarik, Ph.D., associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), visited Southern Research Institute’s Engineering Research Center (ERC) today to tour the engineering facilities and meet with engineering program directors. NASA established STMD in February 2013 to lead the innovation of technologies that will maintain NASA leadership in space exploration and spur U.S. economic growth.
STMD research and development takes place within NASA centers, academia, and private industry, while leveraging partnerships with other government agencies. Gazarik emphasized that working with these outside organizations is essential to the national space initiative. “Multidisciplinary partnerships are important to NASA’s future and to America’s advancement in space,” said Gazarik. “As a result of our collaborations with academia and industry, we have been able to transform inventive concepts into state-of-the-art technologies.”
Gazarik—an electrical engineer by trade—joined NASA after more than 15 years in the private sector developing systems, software, and hardware for both the commercial and governmental industries. He has more than 25 years of experience in space technology design and implementation. As administrator, he leads STMD programs and focuses on integrating NASA’s exploration and science mission needs, demonstrating the needed resources of the greater aerospace community, and helping advance the nation’s innovation economy.
“We are pleased to have Dr. Gazarik visit our campus and see, firsthand, the work we are doing,” said Arthur J. Tipton, Ph.D., president and CEO of Southern Research Institute. “Collaborating with other trailblazing organizations like NASA helps cultivate Southern Research’s pioneering spirit and exhibits our wide range of capabilities.”
Southern Research’s engineering division has supported NASA for more than 40 years, primarily in materials development and mechanical engineering for NASA’s manned space flight program. Southern Research furthered its contributions with the imaging systems critical to the space shuttle program’s return to flight following the Columbia disaster in 2003.
Gazarik’s visit follows the July 2014 appointment of Michael D. Johns, vice president of Southern Research’s engineering division, as a member of NASA’s Technology, Innovation, and Engineering Committee. The committee is part of the NASA Advisory Council and supports the advisory needs of the NASA administrator, office of the chief technologist, and mission directorates, with a scope that includes NASA programs that could benefit from technology research and innovation. Johns was appointed to a two-year term as a special government employee.
“I am honored that NASA chose me to be part of this dynamic advisory committee,” said Johns. “I look forward to serving alongside my accomplished colleagues.”
Following his visit to Southern Research, Gazarik visited the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, to speak with engineering research leadership and graduate students and to tour the university’s research facilities.
About Southern Research
Southern Research Institute is a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) scientific research organization founded in 1941 that conducts preclinical drug discovery and development, advanced engineering research in materials, systems development, and environment and energy research. Approximately 500 scientific and engineering team members support clients and partners in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, defense, aerospace, environmental and energy industries. Southern Research is headquartered in Birmingham, AL, with additional laboratories and offices in Wilsonville and Huntsville, AL, Frederick, MD, Durham, NC, Houston, TX, and Cartersville, GA.