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ISR History

from the ionosphere to the sun

The Institute for Scientific Research was established in 1954, when Professor Rene Marcou of the Mathematics Department was awarded a $5000 contract from the Air Force to map the ionosphere and its effect on radio waves.  This funding was the first government sponsored research grant for Boston College.

The grant was used to define algorithms to study some of the very first ionospheric measurements made by some of the early rocket sensors. In the years that followed, more research grants were made to this department to continue Professor Marcou's early work.  Much of this was fueled by America's race to catch up with the Russians in space research.  In fact, the institute was involved in analyzing some of the earliest satellite measurements from Sputnik and the US Explorer satellites that followed Sputnik. 

Over the years, the Institute had several name changes to reflect the ever changing nature of our studies.  For Ionospheric Research to Space Data Analysis and then, since we did more than just analyze data, the name was changed to the Institute for Space Research. Then to include our studies that exceeded the realm of space, we became the Institute for Scientific Research.

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Historically, the Institute's programs have helped put space shuttles in orbit, made significant contributions in studies of space weather phenomena, and supported America's defense systems.  More recent projects address current interests in space exploration, mitigating the effects of space weather, and social justice with international partnerships that address building capacity for scientific research in underdeveloped countries.

Today the Institute, with nearly 60 staff members, continues to evolve as a nationally and internationally recognized research institution dedicated to space and earth-based scientific exploration.