Space Center Names New Director; Hires New Astronomer

A nationwide search for the next director of Columbus State Universitys Coca-Cola Space Science Center led back to the two-time educator of the year who has been leading the center on an interim basis since late last year.

Shawn Cruzen, a CSU astronomy professor and a fixture in the space center since 1997, officially has been named executive director. He has been serving as interim director since October when founding director Carole Rutland retired.

With the new appointment, Cruzen will give up his role as director of the Mead Observatory, a position that will be filled by Professor Noella DCruz who will arrive in July from the physics faculty at DePaul University

Katheryn Fouche, executive director of CSUs Center of Excellence the space centers parent office described Cruzen as well poised to lead the center. As a faculty member in the College of Science, Shawn brings an excellent record of research, teaching and service to the position. As a member of the space science center team for the past eight years, Shawn is ready to take his ideas and talents to the next level.

Cruzen joined CSU in 1997 from the University of Nevada Las Vegas where he earned both his masters degree and doctorate in physics. In addition to performing educational outreach through Mead Observatory programming, he has developed an astronomy program for CSUs College of Science into one of the universitys most popular elective programs. Utilizing the space centers observatory, Cruzen developed several of the courses he has taught, including Descriptive Astronomy and The Physics of Color and Sound. In addition to maintaining an active research program, he collaborated with CSU faculty colleagues in establishing NASA-sponsored research scholarships for students. Those efforts collectively netted Cruzen CSU Educator of The Year titles for both 1998-99 and 2003-04.

Cruzen said he will continue teaching one or two CSU astronomy courses per year in addition to research activities. I love teaching and interacting with students; and with the addition of two new astronomers (DCruz and Professor Zodiac Webster who joined the CSU faculty in fall 2004 with expertise in radio astronomy), Im looking forward to new opportunities for collaboration.

As Cruzens successor as Mead Observatory Director, DCruz will oversee all observatory activities at the space center including the Mobile Astronomy Program and the online-accessible Solar Observatory. These programs have blossomed in recent years into two of the most popular programs at the space science center, said Cruzen.

DCruz arrives with expertise most heavily in globular star clusters. She also will teach CSU fall 2005 courses Astronomy of the Solar System and Astronomy of Stars and Galaxies. Those duties will extend to her directing research and learning activities from the Mead Observatory for CSU students, including student assistants with the space center.

A native of Bombay, India, DCruz holds both a masters degree and doctorate in astronomy from the University of Virginia. Her undergraduate studies covered engineering physics at the Indian Institute of Technology in her home country. She has served as a visiting physics professor at DePaul since 2003, and previously taught at the University of Virginia and the University of Sydney (Australia).

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For more information, contact Shawn Cruzen at (706) 649-1785 or by e-mail at shawn@ccssc.org