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Events of US National
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U.S. National Committee for URSI


About the Union

URSI logoFounded in 1919, the International Union of Radio Science, known as URSI (Union Radio Scientifique Internationale), coordinates international studies, research, applications, scientific exchange, and communication in all fields of radio science from telecommunications and radio astronomy to medicine. URSI is one of the scientific unions that adhere to the International Council for Science (ICSU)Learn more about the mission of URSI

About the USNC

The U.S. National Committee for URSI (USNC-URSI) is appointed by the National Research Council of The National Academies and represents U.S. radio scientists in URSI. The USNC-URSI encourages studies in radio science, provides a forum for the dissemination of research findings, and provides an organizational infrastructure for the radio science community in the United States.

Both the committee and the union have ten Commissions:

  • (Commission A) Electromagnetic Metrology
  • (Commission B) Fields and Waves
  • (Commission C) Radio Communication Systems and Signal Processing
  • (Commission D) Electronic and Photonics
  • (Commission E) Electromagnetic Environment and Interference
  • (Commission F) Wave Propagation and Remote Sensing
  • (Commission G) Ionospheric Radio Propagation
  • (Commission H) Waves in Plasmas
  • (Commission J) Radio Astronomy
  • (Commission K) Electromagnetics in Biology and Medicine

 Sharing Scientific Discoveries
The committee organizes two major yearly conferences as a forum for reporting new exploratory results in radio science.  These meetings provide a chance for researchers to present papers, learn about the latest developments in the many fields of radio science, and interact with both junior and senior colleagues from around the country.  The National Radio Science Meeting is held each January in Boulder, Colorado; the U.S. National Radio Science Symposium, co-sponsored by the USNC-URSI and the Antennas and Propagation Society of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE/AP-S), is held each summer.   

Approximately every five years, a North American Radio Science (NARS) meeting is organized and co-sponsored by the U.S. and Canadian National Committees to URSI. Vancouver, Canada hosted the last NARS meeting in July, 2015.

 Travel Fellowships and Paper Competitions
Encouraging and increasing the involvement of graduate students and young scientists in radio science is a high priority of the USNC-URSI.  Every full-time student at a U.S.  university who is the primary author and presenter on an accepted paper is eligible to receive a travel award to attend the January National Radio Science Meeting in Boulder, Colorado.  Every year, the USNC-URSI provides travel awards to approximately 100 students. The USNC also provides travel fellowships for students at U.S. universities to present papers at the periodic North American Radio Science Meetings (NARS). 

The Ernest K. Smith Student Paper Competition is organized at each National Radio Science Meeting as well.  Papers are reviewed by representatives of the 10 USNC-URSI commissions and the top three authors are invited to present their research at a special plenary session.  Awards are given for First Prize ($1000), Second Prize ($750), and Third Prize ($500). 

Funding for the student travel fellowships is provided by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Army Research Office, and USNC-URSI meeting funds.  Information on the student travel support program and the student paper competition is available when registering for the National Radio Science Meeting.  Please visit the conference website at

 International Awards
The USNC-URSI sponsors several international URSI awards presented triennially at the URSI General Assembly.  The support for these awards comes from private funds:

  • The Booker Gold Medal is awarded for outstanding contributions to telecommunications or a related discipline.
  • The Booker Fellowship is awarded to an outstanding young American researcher and covers travel to an URSI General Assembly.
  • The Dellinger Gold Medal is awarded for outstanding achievement in any of the branches of radio science covered by the URSI commissions.


USNC Chair Yahya Rahmat-Samii (third from right) at the 2005 URSI General Assembly in India.  Also attending the events is Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, President of India (2002-2007) (second from right).

 International Outreach
The committee actively represents the United States at URSI’s triennial General Assemblies, held in locations around the world.  The USNC sends an official delegation to these Assemblies and maintains U.S. leadership in the union by nominating outstanding U.S. scientists to serve in positions.  The committee also monitors national and international issues involving radio frequency band use, electromagnetic noise and interference, and remote sensing. 

The USNC-URSI is proud to have hosted the 29th URSI General Assembly in Chicago, Illinois August 7-16, 2008.  Over 1,200 U.S. and international scientists, including over 350 students and Young Scientists, participated in sessions covering all ten commissions.  The USNC-URSI helped to support meeting expenses for approximately 200 U.S. and international students and Young Scientists. The 31th URSI General Assembly was held in Beijing, China in 2014.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number AST-1708170. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

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