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For Immediate Release
August 17, 2011

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Paulette W. Campbell
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APL Planetary Scientist Elected Fellow of Geological Society of America

Louise Prockter, a planetary scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory  (APL) in Laurel, Md., has been elected a fellow of the Geological Society of America, an organization of 25,000 members seeking to foster the quest for understanding the Earth, planets, and life; catalyze new scientific ways of thinking about natural systems; and support the application of geoscience knowledge and insight to human needs, aspirations, and Earth stewardship.

To become a fellow, an honor reserved for less than 3 percent of the national society's members, honorees must be nominated by an existing GSA fellow in recognition of distinguished contributions to the geosciences and approved by the entire GSA senate.

In a letter nominating Prockter, Herbert Frey, a GSA Fellow and chief of the Planetary Geodynamics Laboratory at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, wrote: "She is truly deserving of this recognition because of her high standing in the scientific community, contributions to major spacecraft missions, the nature and significance of her research in planetary geology, her leadership of scientific teams and her service to the community through editorships, peer review panels, and as an officer of the Planetary Geology Division of the GSA."

Prockter oversees the research programs of 35 scientists as the supervisor of the Planetary Exploration Group in APL's Space Department. She also serves as the deputy project scientist for the MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry and Ranging (MESSENGER) mission and was the instrument scientist for the mission's Mercury Dual Imaging System. Prior to this she has been a member of several other planetary mission teams, including the Comet Nucleus Tour (CONTOUR), the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) mission to Eros, and the Galileo mission to Jupiter. 

She is a well-known geologist with a long history in studying the surfaces of planetary and small bodies, particularly of Mercury, the asteroid 433 Eros, and Jupiter's satellites Europa and Ganymede. This work has resulted in an impressive list of first authored and co-authored publications in the most prominent peer-reviewed journals. She has also served on numerous NASA and other committees and panels, including current roles on the NASA Planetary Science Subcommittee and the NRC Planetary Decadal Survey.

Prockter has also demonstrated commitment to helping develop the next generation of planetary scientists, and has been the direct advisor for several post-doctoral researchers. She routinely makes presentations and gives public talks about spacecraft exploration of the solar system to astronomy clubs, retirees, college students, and schoolchildren.

"Louise is a model leader in so many ways: she's an eminent scientist, she's built and guides an incredibly talented team, and she's deeply involved in both the science and broader communities," says Space Department Head John Sommerer. "I can't imagine a more deserving recipient of this honor."

Prockter will be recognized as a GSA fellow at the national meeting of the society to be held in Minneapolis in October.

The Applied Physics Laboratory, a division of The Johns Hopkins University, meets critical national challenges through the innovative application of science and technology. For more information, visit