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Presidential Award of Excellence

John Macri

John Macri

Program Manager
EOS - Space Science Center

When directors at NASA are looking for an organization to develop complex instrumentation for a mission, they often pose the question, “What’s the heritage?” This is NASA-speak for asking about an organization’s track record for success in a given area of expertise.

The UNH Space Science Center, part of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, boasts a 60-year, world-class “heritage” of designing and building successful instruments for deployment on missions for NASA. For 33 of those years, John Macri ’78G has made valuable contributions to the center’s extraordinary string of successes: from his first project, a balloon-borne Compton telescope that became the basis for the telescope on NASA’s Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, to a leadership role in the agency's Magnetospheric MultiScale mission, the largest research contract that UNH has ever received.

“When I came here to work on a master’s degree in physics, I was amazed at the kinds of things my team let me do. I’m still amazed,” says Macri.

Roy Torbert, a renowned physics professor and director of the Space Science Center, describes Macri as “one of those people who provide the day-to-day sustaining excellence that lifts the UNH experience out of the ordinary.” Following the launch of the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, for example, Macri made sure the in-flight data collection was correct and continuous for the nine-year mission by making himself available for instrument control, both day and night.

Macri keeps things running as “a well-oiled machine.” And when times get tough, as they invariably must on projects that can last more than a decade and involve scientists, engineers, machinists, programmers, administrative staff, and students, people turn to John for friendly and thoughtful guidance.

It’s all good for Macri. “We do what we do as well as anybody out there, and we do it for less,” he says. “It is hugely satisfying to be able to give the scientists what they need.”

-- David Moore
-- photo by Lisa Nugent