2014 Henry L. Bolley Academic Achievement Award:
Honors those who have attained noted achievements in the area of education.

Darrell F. Strobel, Ph.D.
Click to watch biography video
1964 B.S. physics, NDSU
1965 M.A. physics, Harvard University
1969 Ph.D. physics, Harvard University

Professor, Johns Hopkins University; Departments of Earth & Planetary Science and Physics &Astronomy
Principal Professional Staff, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory

“Professor Strobel is a scholar, scientist, educator, and human being of the finest caliber. He adds luster to North Dakota State and the World.”
– Bruce D. Marsh, professor at Johns Hopkins University

Darrell Strobel grew up in Fargo, just two-and-a-half blocks from campus. He was among the first generation of his family to earn a university degree, but not without toil. Darrell lived at home and worked 15-20 hours a week to finance his education, a mere total of $1280.

As a freshman at what was then NDAC, he first worked at the Red Owl supermarket, and later landed a position as an analytic chemist in the Animal Nutrition Laboratory. During his junior year, he received a scholarship to attend the second Summer Institute in Space Physics at Columbia University. It was an experience that piqued his interest in macroscopic physics. During Darrell’s senior year, the physics department was short on faculty and they hired Darrell to teach first year physics labs. Little did they know when he was hired how Darrell would go on to become an expert in the field.

As an outstanding student, faculty strived to challenge Darrell in order to offer the best possible education. One of his instructors, Frank Arena, was upset when he discovered a sophomore in his graduate-level mathematics course. After earning the top grade on the first test Professor Arena told Darrell, “You do good work. You can stay.”

When it came time to apply for graduate school, Professor Neil Johnson urged Darrell to apply at Harvard University and protested writing letters of recommendation to other lesser institutions. Darrell decided to risk the $25 application fee and to his surprise earned a Ford Foundation Fellowship to study atmospheric physics at the distinguished institution. He completed his masters in 1965 and his Ph.D. in 1969.

His sterling career began as a research associate and physicist at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Tucson, Arizona. In 1973, he moved to the Naval Research Laboratory as a supervisory research physicist and later the head of the Atmospheric Dynamics Section.

In 1984, he joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins University.

Through his career, Dr. Strobel has studied a wide range of fundamental problems in atmospheric chemistry, dynamics and radiation dealing with the Earth’s atmosphere and the atmospheres of the solar system’s giant planets and their satellites. He has played a large role in NASA’s unmanned exploration program. Among his many scientific accomplishments: he was co-investigator of the Ultraviolet Spectrometer experiment on the Voyager Mission, he was a key member of a team that used the Hubble Space Telescope to discover oxygen atmospheres on two moons of Jupiter, and he is currently an interdisciplinary scientist on the Cassini Mission to Saturn and a co-investigator on the New Horizons Mission to Pluto.

In total, he has produced about 190 refereed journal publications and 25 book chapters. Perhaps his most impressive feature of his publication record is the frequency with which he has published in the two top journals in science: 16 articles in Science, and 4 articles in Nature. For many scientists, having one or two articles featured in these publications over the course of your career is an accomplishment. His record certainly testifies to the high quality of his work and his deserving classification of one of the world’s best scientists. Dr. Strobel, a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, also gives freely of his time to advancing science by serving on a number of advisory and editorial boards.

One of Dr. Strobel’s most gratifying professional accomplishments was being recognized by his peers with the prestigious Gerard P. Kuiper Prize from the American Astronomical Society’s Division of Planetary Sciences. This award is the premiere distinction for any planetary scientist.

Dr. Strobel’s wife of 45 years, Carol, passed away in 2013 after a four-year battle with cancer. He has two daughters; Rachel and Katharyn and two grandsons. Dr. Strobel resides in Baltimore, MD.

If you’d like to send a note of congratulations to Dr. Strobel, please email it to
and we’ll include it in his guestbook.

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