With office walls covered with more awards than paint, Dr. Kamlesh Lulla received another very high level prestigious award from the President of India. Lulla, director of the University Research, Collaboration and Partnership Office at Johnson Space Center, received the 2015 Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award at a ceremony on Jan. 9 in Gandhinagar Gujarat, India.
The Pravasi Bharatiya Samman Award is one of the highest profile global awards given to people of Indian origin by the Government of India. It acknowledges outstanding achievement in the field of scientific research and recognizes valuable contribution in promoting the honor and prestige of India. . Only fifteen people from around the world were selected and invited to the award ceremony which was attended by many prominent leaders of India including the Prime Minister, Cabinet level ministers and India’s Vice President, Mr. Hamid Ansari who represented the President of India. The date of the ceremony marked the 100th
anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s return to India from South Africa on Jan. 9, 1915-an event that changed the destiny of Indian nation.
“This award is over 30 years in the making,” said Lulla. “Awards are great recognition, but the greatest recognition is creating knowledge for space exploration for all humanity”
Lulla is an internationally acclaimed scientist in Earth Observations, Earth Remote sensing and Geosciences, and has been at NASA for 27 years. His work had a significant impact on astronaut crews, as he developed astronaut-directed Earth remote sensing and served as lead scientist for Earth-looking payloads. He also collaborated with Dr. Sally Ride on educational projects such as the “Kidsat” which evolved into EarthKAM, that has reached thousands of schools students across the globe. Dr. Lulla’s scientific contributions are well recognized and include Earth-looking payloads such as digital imaging the Shuttle Radar Topographic Mapping missions.
In the past, Dr. Lulla has held several leadership positions at Johnson Space Center including Chief Scientist for Earth Observation for Space Shuttle and International Space Station programs, as well as directed flight crew training in Earth Observation Sciences and Earth Science payloads. He has served as Branch chief for Flight Science branch and Earth Science division.
He is a prolific author and has been published numerous scientific and technical papers, edited six books, the latest being a book on the shuttle program “Wings In Orbit” “The book took three years and is one of my favorite project,” said Lulla. “Not only am I helping my research story on board the Space Shuttle, but I am helping the agency tell the fantastic Space Shuttle story.” He is also Chief Editor and founder of Geocarto International
, a prestigious scientific journal in Earth remote sensing.
Before NASA, Lulla was a tenured professor and research director for over 12 years and has two Ph.D. degrees. In his current position as director for university research collaboration and partnership office, Dr Lulla developed the Cyber Security Institute at the University of Houston Clear Lake, which is now a resource for the aerospace industry, and collaborated with Rice University to offer a Professional Master’s degree in Space Studies to students. Lulla has successfully developed collaborations with JSC engineering to help build wireless sensor technology and wearable technology with many universities. He has also worked with minority students to support STEM careers, and even had a former intern apply to be an astronaut.
He understands the pathway to achieving one’s goals and that great careers are not built in one day. Lulla left India more than 37 years ago to pursue opportunities in the U.S. “The advice is very simple. Find your passion and pursue it. If you follow your passion and pursue it, you will definitely be rewarded.”
Lulla is extremely involved in community outreach projects, such as volunteering for the STEM education events, Innovation Competitions and serves as an advisor for the Environmental Institute of Houston. He served as Chair of the NASA Asian Pacific American Council, and the NASA Johnson Space Center Child Care Facility some years ago.
He was inspired by the example of first Asian American astronaut Ellison Onizuka who worked tirelessly to inspire the younger generations. He embodies the Onizuka spirit: to be the change one wants to see, and wants to continue to interact with younger generations. “Great endeavors require great sacrifices, great preparation and hard work. If you want to be involved in everlasting achievement, have the skills and the passion.”
Anna Seils, Office of Communications and Public Affairs
Dr Kamlesh Lulla receiving the 2015 Pravasi Bhartiya Samman Award from India’s Vice President Mr Hamid Ansari and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Ministry for Overseas Indian Affairs Mrs Sushma Swaraj at Gandhinagar Gujarat, India. January 9, 2015. Gujarat Chief Minister Smt. Anandiben Patel and Gujarat Governor Mr Kohli are also seen in this photo.
Houston’s own Indian American NASA Chief Scientist Dr. Kamlesh Lulla- receiving the 2015 Pravasi Bhartiya Samman Award from India’s Vice President Mr Hamid Ansari and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Ministry for Overseas Indian Affairs Mrs Sushma Swaraj at Gandhinagar Gujarat, India on January 9, 2015.