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In memory: Planetary geologist Ronald Greeley

October 28, 2011

Ronald Greeley, a Regents’ Professor of planetary geology at Arizona State University, who has been involved in lunar and planetary studies since 1967 and has contributed significantly to our understanding of planetary bodies within our solar system, died Oct. 27, in Tempe. He was 72.

As the son of a military serviceman, Greeley moved around a great deal as child. As a result he saw many different geological landforms and it was no surprise that when he went to college, he majored in geology. Greeley earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Mississippi State University. After receiving his doctorate in 1966 at the University of Missouri in Rolla he worked for Standard Oil Company of California as a paleontologist. Ron Greeley Download Full Image

Through military duty, he was assigned to NASA’s Ames Research Center in 1967 where he worked in a civilian capacity in preparation for the Apollo missions to the Moon. He stayed on at NASA to conduct research in planetary geology.

“I had been on sabbatical at NASA Ames Research Center working on the analysis of lunar samples, and I saw Ron and I saw potential,” recalls Carleton Moore, founding director of ASU’s Center for Meteorite Studies. “When I got the opportunity, I hired him.”

Greeley began teaching at ASU in 1977 with a joint professorship in the department of geology and the Center for Meteorite Studies. He studied wind processes on Earth and other planets and conducted photogeological mapping of planets and satellites among other research projects. In 1986, Greeley left the Center for Meteorite Studies to serve as chair of the department of geology.

“It was exciting to have him here; he was a major step in advancing space at ASU. He was the first one that came that did missions and experiments on planetary bodies,” says Moore. “He was really the first person to reach out to the other planets. And then he hired Phil Christensen.”

“Ron Greeley was indisputably one of the founders of planetary science, and the influence he has had, both through his own work and through the students and colleagues that he guided and mentored, touches virtually all aspects of this field,” says Christensen, a Regents’ Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration in ASU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

“Ron played a major role in my career,” says Christensen. “I came to ASU specifically to work with Ron after receiving my graduate degree, and I have remained at ASU for 30 years largely because of the remarkable environment that Ron created here to foster planetary science as an extension of geology.”

Greeley, a pioneer in the planetary geology field, served as the director of the NASA-ASU Regional Planetary Image Facility and principal investigator of the Planetary Aeolian Laboratory at NASA-Ames Research Center. He served on and chaired many NASA and National Academy of Science panels and he was involved in nearly every major space probe mission flown in the solar system since the Apollo Moon landing. Mission projects included the Galileo mission to Jupiter, Magellan mission to Venus and Shuttle Imaging Radar orbiter around Earth. He was also part of the data analysis program for the Voyager 2 mission to Uranus and Neptune. His projects focused on the moons of these distant bodies. Passionate about Mars exploration, he has been involved with several missions to the Red Planet, including Mariner (6, 7, 9), Viking, Mars Pathfinder, Mars Global Surveyor and the Mars Exploration Rovers. He is a co-investigator for the camera system onboard the European Mars Express mission.

Former students scattered throughout the universities and research institutes of this country provide testimony to his influence on planetary geology.

“As I began my research career, Ron reminded me of the old adage: ‘A journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.’ I am fortunate to have had Ron there walking beside me,” says Robert Pappalardo, senior research scientist at NASA Jet Propulsion Lab. Greeley served as Pappalardo’s advisor. After receiving his doctorate from ASU in 1994, Pappalardo worked with Greeley for one year immediately after that as a postdoc. Since about 2002, the two had worked together on the science basis for Europa mission studies.

“Ron was a gentleman, a statesman, a mentor, a scholar,” says Pappalardo. “Not a day goes by that I don’t think, in some situation, ‘What would Ron Greeley do?’”

“Ron was a profoundly influential scientist whose imprint on planetary science will live on through his body of research and the many students he taught and mentored. He was a wonderful friend and colleague. We were fortunate to have known him and will miss him terribly,” said Kip Hodges, founding director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration. Greeley served a year as interim director of the school before Hodges joined ASU.
“Ron has been a very good friend of mine for many years, an incredible leader in planetary science, and the founder and guiding force for planetary science here at ASU. His leadership, friendship, and vision will be sorely missed,” says Christensen.

Greeley’s work lives on in proposed missions to Europa, a moon of Jupiter, and in the numerous students he mentored who today play pivotal roles in space science efforts.

Greeley is preceded in death by his daughter, Vanessa. He is survived by his wife Cindy and his son, Randall (Lidiette). He leaves behind three grandchildren.

A memorial service is scheduled for Monday, November 7. There will be a visitation with the family from 2:30-3:45 p.m. and a memorial service from 4-5 p.m.  at the LDS Church, 2707 S. College Ave., in Tempe. Link to map: The family is asking that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the "Ron Greeley Memorial Fund." Memorial donations may be made to the ASU Foundation for the Ronald Greeley Memorial Endowment, c/o the School of Earth and Space Exploration, PO Box 871404, ASU, Tempe, AZ 85287-1404.

A Facebook page dedicated to Professor Greeley will also be updated with related information:

Nikki Cassis

marketing and communications director, School of Earth and Space Exploration

Lindor named executive vice provost of Health Solutions

October 28, 2011

Keith D. Lindor is leaving his position as dean of Mayo Medical School Rochester, Minn., and professor of medicine at the College of Medicine, Mayo Clinic, to become executive vice provost of Health Solutions, effective Jan. 3, 2012. 

In his new position at Arizona State University, Lindor will lead all of ASU’s health related activities and will have responsibility for developing the new School of the Science of Health Care Delivery and working with others to develop the ASU’s master’s degree in the Science of Health Care Delivery that will be embedded in the curriculum of the Mayo Medical School in Arizona. Download Full Image

The School of Nutrition and Health Promotion will report to him, as will the Department of Biomedical Informatics. The College of Nursing and Health Innovation is part of Health Solutions, and other related units include the School of Biological and Health Systems Engineering and numerous research centers and programs including the Center for Health Innovation & Clinical Trials, the Center for Health Information and Research, the Center for World Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, The Health Care Delivery and Policy Program and the Healthcare Transformation Institute.  

“At ASU we are focused on challenges, and improving health care is at the top of our challenge list,” said ASU President Michael M. Crow. “Better health care will require new models for education and research and new kinds of collaborations. That is why ASU has reconfigured all of the university’s health related schools and centers, and entered into a variety of collaborations with our partner, Mayo Clinic.

“Keith Lindor has already undertaken an innovative approach to improving health care in helping to conceptualize the Mayo Medical School – Arizona Campus, which includes a key collaboration with ASU. He will be responsible for bringing together all relevant academic personnel at ASU to coordinate with Mayo in our desire to transform health care and produce health care professionals who are prepared to lead in the medical profession of the future.”

“Dr. Lindor is exceptionally creative and innovative and an ideal person to lead our programs that will produce the health care professionals who will transform health care in the future,” said Elizabeth D. Capaldi, executive vice president and provost of ASU.

“I took this position because of the opportunity to link the resources of two great institutions, Mayo and ASU, to improve health care outcomes,” Lindor said. “I can’t imagine that there is a better place to pursue that challenge.”

Mayo Clinic recently announced the expansion of Mayo Medical School in Rochester to Arizona, and a major differentiating feature at this new branch of Mayo Medical School is that all students will complete a specialized master’s degree in the Science of Health Care Delivery granted by ASU, concurrently with their medical degree from Mayo Medical School. Mayo is believed to be the first medical school to offer such a program.

Over the past nine years, ASU has worked strategically to establish a comprehensive educational and research relationship with the Mayo Clinic aimed at improving health outcomes for the people of Arizona and the nation. The resulting multi-faceted Mayo-ASU collaboration is based at Mayo Clinic Arizona, but also extends across the Mayo Clinic system to its medical practice and research groups in Rochester, Minn., and Jacksonville, Fla.

The Mayo Clinic/ASU partnership has produced innovative degree programs, such as dual degrees in medicine and law, medicine and business administration, and medicine and biomedical engineering. It also has produced exceptional research initiatives that are addressing some of today’s most important health care issues, such as in metabolic and vascular biology, cancer, personalized medicine, bioengineering, intestinal microecology and health care innovation.

Lindor received a bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities (1975) and a medical degree from the Mayo Medical School (1979), and did a residency in internal medicine at Bowman Gray School of Medicine (1979-82). He is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM).

His honors include being named a MacMillan Management Scholar, Internal Named Professor in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Internal Medicine, and Caro M. Gatton Professor of Digestive Disease Research, all at Mayo Clinic.

He began his career at Mayo in 1983 after serving a year as general medical officer, Indian Health Services, Sells, Ariz.

Communications Specialist, ASU Libraries