USRA’s Council of Institutions Elect New Leadership Team

The Council of Institutions of Universities Space Research Association, which comprises representatives from each of USRA’s 120 member institutions, elected new leadership, bringing together esteemed professionals from diverse academic backgrounds to further advance the organization’s mission. Dr. Joan Ramage, hailing from Lehigh University, assumes the role of Chair of the Council of Institutions, while Dr. Jed Hancock, representing Utah State University, steps into the position of Vice Chair. Both Ramage and Hancock bring experience and dedication to their new roles, while they continue to serve as representatives of their respective universities within USRA.

Dr. Joan Ramage’s tenure with USRA dates to 2012 when she first joined as a COI representative. Over the years, she has made significant contributions to USRA governance and operations, notably through her involvement in the Scholarship Review Committee from 2014 to 2020 and again in 2023, as well as her ongoing service on the Issues and Programs Committee since 2018. She hosted a meeting of USRA’s member universities from New YorkNew Jersey, and Pennsylvania in 2021. Recognized for her leadership, Ramage was elected Vice Chair of USRA’s Council of Institutions in 2022, a testament to her commitment to advancing collaborative efforts within the organization.

Likewise, Dr. Jed Hancock has been the Representative for Utah State University since 2015. He served on the Issues and Program Committee (IPC) from 2018 – 2020, after which he remained on the IPC as an observer. He also served as Chair of the COI Nominating Committee from 2022 – 2024 and hosted the meeting of USRA’s Rocky Mountain (Region VIII) universities at Utah State University in 2019.

Beyond their roles within USRA, they are both active in many other initiatives. Ramage is an expert in remote sensing of terrestrial cryosphere and leads the Eastern Snow Conference. She  is deeply committed to fostering diversity and inclusion within STEM fields. As part of her endeavors at Lehigh University and beyond, she actively contributes to the Earth and Environmental Sciences Department Committee on Diversity and Inclusion, working to create an environment where all voices are heard and valued.

Furthermore, Ramage’s dedication to advancing equity is beyond her immediate roles. She has developed National Association of Geoscience Teachers (NAGT) workshops aimed at fostering graduate student belonging, success, and leadership, contributing to the cultivation of a supportive and inclusive academic community. In her capacity as ADVANCE Center Faculty Director, Ramage champions equity and success for faculty members, with a particular emphasis on removing barriers to success for historically minoritized faculty across STEM disciplines and academia at large. Her multifaceted approach underscores her unwavering commitment to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion within academia, making her a truly invaluable asset to both Lehigh University and the broader academic community.

Dr. Jed Hancock’s distinguished career at Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory
(SDL) exemplifies his commitment to advancing research and education in the field of space exploration. Under his leadership as President since 2021, SDL has emerged as a trusted partner to government agencies, providing mission-enabling solutions to the Department of Defense, Intelligence Community, and civil space agencies.

Hancock’s expertise in research and strategic partnerships has been instrumental in the success of several NASA programs, including OSIRIS-REx, ICON, NEO Surveyor, PACE, SunRISE, and AWE. Furthermore, Hancock’s leadership in the development of space-based missile tracking and sensor technologies has significantly enhanced the Department of Defense’s capabilities in national security and defense.

Dr. Hancock is an adjunct faculty member at Utah State University (USU) and serves on graduate committees at both USU and the University of Arizona. He earned a distinguished alumni award from USU, individual/group achievement awards from NASA, and is a Fellow of the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE).

About USRA
Founded in 1969, under the auspices of the National Academy of Sciences at the request of the U.S. Government, the Universities Space Research Association (USRA) is a nonprofit corporation chartered to advance space-related science, technology, and engineering. USRA operates scientific institutes and facilities and conducts other major research and educational programs. It is an association with 120 university members. USRA engages the broader university community, employs in-house scientific talent, and offers innovative research, development, and project management expertise.  For more information, see