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84

SEPTEMBER 2017

|

THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL

AFSA NEWS

AFSA EXEMPLARY PERFORMANCE AWARDS

Inspiring Young Children with Science

THE AV I S BOHLEN AWARD FOR A FORE I GN SERV I CE FAMI LY MEMBER

HENRY THROOP

It is not often that kids from

a rural area get to meet a

“real NASA scientist,” much

less one as enthusiastic and

positive as Henry Throop.

An astrophysicist who

works as a contractor

on several NASA-funded

missions and projects, Dr.

Throop volunteers a sig-

nificant portion of time each

week to conduct unpaid

science-based outreach with

underserved students.

During his wife’s post-

ings in Mumbai, Pretoria

and Mexico City (as well

as Washington, D.C.),

Dr. Throop worked with

embassy public affairs sec-

tions to organize outreach

opportunities and talks

across Mexico, India and

South Africa. These have

reached tens of thousands

of students.

At a typical event held in

Limpopo, South Africa, he

spent the day giving three

long talks—and answer-

ing engaging and inven-

tive questions from the

students—followed by an

evening observation session,

where students and teach-

ers alike queued long in to

the night to view the rings

of Saturn through one of his

telescopes.

In India, Dr. Throop has

spoken at schools for disad-

vantaged children in Mumbai

and delivered a lecture at the

American Center in Kolkata.

By building people-to-

people ties, encouraging

kids to pursue careers in

STEM (science, technology,

engineering and mathemat-

ics) fields, and helping to

develop bilateral space-

science relationships with

each country where he

has worked, Dr. Throop’s

volunteer work has directly

supported the mission goals

at each of his posts.

At the awards ceremony

on June 20, Dr. Throop

reminded the audience that

a number of scientific break-

throughs and successes

have been brought about by

international collaboration.

He mentioned the largest

telescope in the southern

hemisphere, which is a joint

project built in South Africa

with partners from India,

New Zealand, Poland and

the United States—coun-

tries working together to

accomplish things that

simply weren’t possible 20

years ago.

“These sorts of inter-

national projects inspire

students,” Dr. Throop said on

accepting the award. “They

love what the U.S. does, but

they also love what happens

in their own country. And by

seeing that their own coun-

try is part of these collabora-

tions, they can be directly

involved in these huge world-

wide science projects.”

He also noted that this

is only the second time

the Avis Bohlen Award

has been given to a male

eligible family member. “I’m

happy to push that number

up, in support of all of the

great women that the State

Department now has rising

in their ranks,” he said.

Dr. Throop is a senior

scientist with the Planetary

Science Institute in Tucson,

Arizona, where his research

focuses on the outer solar

system. He is currently living

in Mumbai with his wife, FSO

Heidi Hattenbach, and their

three children.

n

Henry Throop (center) with Mette Beecroft (left), who presented the award

on behalf of the Bohlen family, and AFSA President Ambassador Barbara

Stephenson (right).

Henry Throop sets up a telescope at Madikweng Senior Secondary school

in Limpopo, South Africa, for the students to see the moon and the rings of

Saturn.

COURTESYOFHENRYTHROOP

AFSA/TOYASARNOJORDAN