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CONTACT: Bruce Smith
Public Information Officer
(310) 434-4209
DATE: August. 26, 2005


Santa Monica College astronomy professor Gary Fouts – whose teaching and research have won awards and whose enthusiasm and passion for his discipline are well known on campus – has been named the second recipient of the John F. Drescher Chair of Excellence in Earth Science.

Fouts, of Santa Clarita, receives $5,000 a year for each of the next three years to be used for a research project of his choice that will enhance his teaching. He plans to use the funds to conduct research on atmospheric ozone level fluctuations, which have been shown to lead to excess UV sun rays, posing risks ranging from skin cancer to crop damage.

“I cannot think of a better way to use the funds from this prestigious award,” said SMC Interim President Dr. Thomas J. Donner in announcing the winner at SMC’s Opening Day Convocation Thursday (Aug. 25). Donner was joined by SMC Foundation Executive Director Dr. JoAnn McLin Ortiz in presenting the award to Fouts.
“Professor Fouts has had a remarkable career in teaching and research stretching from Washington state to Washington, D.C.,” Donner said.

The first recipient of the Drescher award was anthropology professor Dr. Joan Barker. The Drescher chair is one of six such awards established at SMC. The others are in physical science, biology, nursing, music and art. Such awards – believed to be rare for a community college – are administered by the SMC

Foundation and are funded from the interest earned on the $100,000 endowments.
The John F. Drescher chair was established in the memory of a philanthropist and generous donor to the college. Drescher, who died in February 2000 at the age of 89, had left in his will a $1.5 million bequest to the college, and a portion of those funds went to create the endowed chair.

After receiving his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in astronomy from San Diego State University, Fouts served in many capacities, including director of the Goldendale Observatory in Washington and research assistant at the Mount Wilson Observatory in the mountains above Pasadena. He also worked at a company where he was responsible for designing and implementing methods of analysis of data from the Hubble Space Telescope.

Fouts has conducted numerous research projects that have taken him to such organizations as the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. And he has had several scientific papers published, including an award-winning paper that garnered him attention in books such as “The Alchemy of Heavens” and magazines such as Scientific American.

An astronomy professor at SMC since 1988, he founded and advises the student Astronomy Club and has organized colloquia, lectures and fundraisers for his department and the club. He has received several awards, including the SMC Associated Students’ Outstanding Faculty Award.

He is active in his profession through such organizations as the American Astronomical Society and Sigma Xi, the honorary scientific research society of North America.


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