PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University professor of astronomy and mathematics and director of the Program in Astronomy Julie H. Lutz was named Boeing Distinguished Professor of Mathematics and Science Education at the annual College of Sciences Recognition Reception.
The announcement was made by Lloyd Osborn, manager of engineering initiatives at the Boeing Company and member of the College of Sciences Board of Visitors. The professorship was created specifically to enhance science interest and knowledge among K-12 students, as well as non-science majors at WSU, and to support the pipeline of students interested in majors in science and mathematics. The professorship is funded by a portion of the $8.6 million campaign gift to WSU from the Boeing Company.
Osborn commended Lutz for her “diverse and numerous contributions in research and instruction at many levels.” Lutz is a nationally recognized leader in working to improve science education in K-12. She has participated in the NASA Space Grant Program to enhance astronomy understanding among high school and junior high school teachers and has conducted many workshops for teachers in these grades.
She was instrumental in developing WSU’s association with the Astrophysical Research Consortium, which built a new generation telescope in New Mexico that student and faculty astronomers can use remotely from computers located at WSU. She was invited to participate on the NASA committee that studied potential impacts of the discovery of extraterrestrial life and has recently developed a class on that topic. Lutz also has long been an advocate of developing science career opportunities for women.
Lutz came to WSU in 1971. She had earned a bachelor’s degree at San Diego State University and master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Illinois. As a researcher, she is noted for studies on infrared observations of planetary nebulae and work on symbiotic stars. Her early astronomical research was done at the Lick Observatory, the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona, and University College, London. In the 1980s, she was a visiting resident astronomer at the Cerro Tololo Interamerican Observatory in Chile.
For two years in the early 1990s, Lutz served as director of the Division of Astronomical Sciences of the National Science Foundation in Washington D.C. In recognition of her contributions to this program, which is the major funding source for ground-based astronomy in the country, she was given the Award for Management Excellence in 1992.
She has served in many administrative roles, including as assistant dean of the Division of Sciences, associate provost and, as chair of the Department of Pure and Applied Mathematics from 1992 to 1996, she led the effort to increase computer facilities available to faculty and students during a period in which enrollments increased nearly 25 percent.
Her contributions to the national scientific community include chairing the publications board of the American Astronomical Society, serving as president and on the board of directors of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, and as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She also holds membership in the Royal Astronomical Society, the National Science Teachers Association, the Association for Women in Science and the Association for Women in Mathematics.
Among her recent honors are the Alumni of the Year award from San Diego State University in 1992 and the College of Sciences and Arts Faculty Achievement Award in 1993.