US National Academy of Engineering to induct Taiwan space physicist

Taiwan’s Lee Lou-chuang is elected Feb. 7 a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering for his contributions to space physics. (Courtesy of AS

Taiwan space physicist Lee Lou-chuang was elected Feb. 7 a member of the U.S. National Academy of Engineering for his seminal research in the discipline and leadership on the Formosat observation satellite programs.
Lee was named among this year’s 83 U.S. and 16 foreign inductees for advancing scientific understanding in areas spanning atmospheric physics, radio communication and space weather forecasting, according to Academia Sinica, Taiwan’s foremost research organization. Among the scholar’s key work is a 1979 theory explaining strong radio emissions from Earth, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus, as well as a 1992 paper on the formation dynamics of solar prominences, bright gaseous features that are major factors in the planet’s geomagnetic activity.
In addition to his celebrated research career, Lee has held a number of prominent administrative roles. He served as minister of the National Science Council—later restructured as the Ministry of Science and Technology—from 2008-2012; president of National Central University in northern Taiwan’s Taoyuan City from 2006-2008; founding president of the National Applied Research Laboratories from 2003-2006; and chief scientist and director-general of the National Space Program Office—forerunner to the National Space Organization—from 1997-2001 and 2001-2004, respectively.
During his tenure at NSPO, Lee oversaw development of Formosat-2, Taiwan’s first remote sensing satellite. Launched in 2004 and decommissioned after 12 years in service, it played an instrumental role in highlighting the impacts of climate change.
In 2003, Lee’s Formosat-2 team at NSPO was also among the first in the world to capture evidence of gigantic jets—electrical discharge phenomena in Earth’s upper atmosphere. The AS academician has previously been elected to several leading international bodies, including Italy-based World Academy of Sciences in 2006 and Sweden-headquartered International Academy of Astronautics in 2007. 
Lee is the 48th Taiwan scholar to be named to the U.S. National Academy of Engineering, with past honorees including AS President James C. Liao, who was recognized in 2013 for his contributions to bioengineering. The 2018 class will be formally inducted at the academy’s annual meeting Sept. 30 in Washington. (KWS-E)
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