Santa Monica College astronomy professor Gary Fouts has been named recipient of the John F. Drescher Chair of Excellence in Earth Science.

Fouts, a Santa Clarita resident, will receive $5,000 a year for three years to be used for a research project of his choice.

He plans to use the funds to conduct research on atmospheric ozone level fluctuations, which may lead to excess ultraviolet sun rays, skin cancer risks and crop damage.

Fouts has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in astronomy from San Diego State University.

“Professor Fouts has had a remarkable career in teaching and research, stretching from Washington State to Washington, D.C.,” said Santa Monica College interim president Tom Donner.

Fouts has worked on projects for the Goldendale Observatory, Mount Wilson Observatory, Hubble Space Telescope and the Smithsonian Institute.

He has been teaching at Santa Monica College since 1988 and founded the college’s student Astronomy Club.

The Drescher chair was established in memory of a philanthropist who died in 2000 and left a $1.5 million bequest to the college in his will.

Santa Monica College has six chairs that are administered by the SMC Foundation and funded from the interest earned on $100,000 endowments.

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