Professor of physics Mark McConnell is the new director of the collaborative Southwest Research Institute Earth, Oceans and Space (SwRI-EOS) department at UNH, replacing professor of physics Roy Torbert. SwRI-EOS, launched in 2013, brings together UNH’s expertise in space science with the San Antonio-based SwRI’s extensive science mission management expertise.
“As first SwRI-EOS director, Roy did a great and important job of establishing the department and building it out,” says Harlan Spence, director of UNH’s Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space (EOS), who oversees the collaboration for UNH. “The transition of this activity to Mark McConnell as the second director is seamless. Mark has already been working closely with SwRI-EOS on his own proposals, and so knows deeply about the strategic partnership and what is needed to take it to the next level.”
Located in Morse Hall, SwRI-EOS conducts spaceflight and suborbital research projects focused on Earth sciences, astrophysics and heliospheric physics for industry and government. SwRI-EOS was formed to make SwRI, an independent, nonprofit applied research and development organization, a strategic partner in the development of competitive proposals for large NASA missions. Both Spence and McConnell point to the successful UNH and SwRI collaboration on NASA’s Magnetospheric Multiscale, or MMS, mission as just one example of the power of the synergy between the two partners.
“The mission is returning some incredibly exciting new data about the Earth’s magnetosphere,” says McConnell, who was chair of the physics department for the past five years. “My principal goal as director will be to further develop the relationship between UNH and SwRI, providing UNH access to the resources of SwRI and helping SwRI expand its research portfolio and capitalize on the unique engineering capabilities UNH has to offer.”