Senior research scientist John Ries, who spent the last ten years at UT's Center for Space Research advancing the capability for the accurate determination of earth orbiting satellite, received this year's NASA Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal for his work.

Along with researcher Jean-Paul Berthias, Ries led an international interdisciplinary team from 1998-2008 in the effort to deliver accuracy orbits for the Topex Jason 1 and Jason 2 missions. The accurate orbits have allowed unprecedented global observation of the largest El Niño event of the 20th century.

One of NASA's most prestigious honor awards, the Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal awards both government and non-government individuals for significant technology contributions. NASA cited Ries and Berthias's "outstanding achievements" in precision orbit determination (POD) improvement for "leading to the capability of monitoring global sea level change." Their work has laid the foundation for the first global record of sea level change resulting from climate change.

Ries received a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from UT in 1989 and focuses his research on orbit mechanics, geodesy, relativity, and computational techniques to solving problems in those areas. He has made numerous contributions to the field of POD, satellite geodesy and general relativity theory.