Desert expert to speak at UMR Sigma Xi awards banquet

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On April 12, 2005

Dr. Farouk El-Baz, the Boston researcher who is credited with helping to alleviate ground water shortages in arid lands such as Somalia and Oman, is the keynote speaker for the annual Sigma Xi awards banquet at the University of Missouri-Rolla on Thursday, April 28.

The banquet begins with refreshments at 6:30 p.m. in the Havener Center. Dinner will follow. El-Baz’s topic is "Pyramids and the Sphinx: Gifts of the Desert." Tickets are $15 for public and $10 for UMR students. The public is welcome to attend.

El-Baz, a UMR graduate, is a research professor and director of the Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University. Under his leadership, the center has grown to become a leading force in the applications of remote sensing technology to environments around the world, particularly in the field of archaeology. For example, El-Baz developed a methodology for nondestructive investigation of a sealed chamber containing a disassembled boat at the base of the Great Pyramid in Giza, Egypt.

El-Baz’s desert research, spanning 25 years, helped dispel the myth that deserts were man-made and explained how arid lands originated and evolved in response to global climatic variations. His research methods are now commonly replicated in desert studies throughout the world. A planetary scientist, El-Baz led the team that selected the lunar landing sites for the Apollo program.

El-Baz received master of science and doctorate degrees in geology from UMR in 1961 and 1964, respectively. He also holds a bachelor of science degree in chemistry and geology from Ain Shams University in Cairo, Egypt.

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, has nearly 75,000 scientists and engineers who have been elected into the society because of their research achievements or potential.

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For tickets or more information about El-Baz’s lecture, contact Dr. John P. Hogan, associate professor of geology and geophysics at UMR, at (573) 341-4616, email, or visit

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On April 12, 2005. Posted in News