Charles Elachi, director of the NASA Jet Propul­sion Lab­o­ra­tory and vice pres­i­dent of the Cal­i­fornia Insti­tute of Tech­nology, will deliver North­eastern University’s 2016 Com­mence­ment address for the after­noon grad­uate cer­e­mony on Friday, May 6, 2016, at Matthews Arena in Boston.

Elachi, who is an inter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized expert on space sci­ence, will address some 2,000 grad­uate stu­dents in atten­dance, along with family mem­bers, uni­ver­sity leaders, and friends. He will also receive an hon­orary degree.

North­eastern Pres­i­dent Joseph E. Aoun unveiled the news Monday night on Twitter.

Charles Elachi is an accom­plished leader and inno­vator who has made a real dif­fer­ence in the field of space explo­ration,” Pres­i­dent Aoun said. “We are hon­ored that he will join us at Com­mence­ment to cel­e­brate our grad­uate stu­dents’ accom­plish­ments and help them launch their own per­sonal and pro­fes­sional journeys.”

Elachi began his career at JPL, which is a fed­er­ally funded research and devel­op­ment center man­aged by Cal­tech for NASA, as a stu­dent intern in 1970. He has been an active researcher and sci­ence inves­ti­gator on many space explo­ration mis­sions and projects for the past 45 years, and is cred­ited with pio­neering the use of radar remote sensing tech­niques on such mis­sions as the Shuttle Imaging Radar series, Mag­ellan, and Cassini. He has authored more than 230 pub­li­ca­tions in the fields of active microwave remote sensing and elec­tro­mag­netic theory, and holds sev­eral patents in those fields.

Elachi was appointed JPL director and Cal­tech vice pres­i­dent in 2001. He is also cur­rently a pro­fessor of elec­trical engi­neering and plan­e­tary science.

JPL has seen more than 25 suc­cessful mis­sions during the past 15 years under Elachi’s lead­er­ship that have expanded knowl­edge of our planet, our solar system and the larger uni­verse. For example, the Jason space­craft mon­itor sea-​​surface height and study its inter­ac­tion with Earth’s weather and cli­mate; the Spirit, Oppor­tu­nity and Curiosity Mars rovers have found evi­dence of ancient envi­ron­ments favor­able for micro­bial life; GRAIL mapped the moon’s gravity; the Deep Impact mis­sion probed a comet with an inten­tional col­li­sion; Voy­ager was the first human-​​made object to reach inter­stellar space; the Spitzer Space Tele­scope has peered bil­lions of years back in time; and the Kepler mis­sion has expanded dra­mat­i­cally our cat­alog of planets beyond the solar system.

At JPL, we have an excep­tional team of men and women who accom­plish the seem­ingly impos­sible, thanks in large part to their own pas­sion and a solid edu­ca­tional back­ground,” Elachi said. “I’m looking for­ward to addressing the grad­u­ating stu­dents of North­eastern Uni­ver­sity, who now have the oppor­tu­nity to accom­plish great things in their chosen fields.”

Elachi is a member of both the National Academy of Engi­neering and the Inter­na­tional Academy of Astro­nau­tics, and has received numerous awards and served on many boards and com­mit­tees throughout his accom­plished career. He will soon receive two more pres­ti­gious awards: the 2016 Avi­a­tion Week Lau­reate Award for Life­time Achieve­ment, which rec­og­nizes extra­or­di­nary accom­plish­ments in avi­a­tion, aero­space, and defense; and the National Space Trophy from the Rotary National Award for Space Achieve­ment Foun­da­tion, pre­sented to an out­standing Amer­ican who has made sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tions to the country’s space program.

Elachi will retire as JPL director at the end of June, and will become pro­fessor emer­itus at Caltech.

JPL has served as a rich expe­ri­en­tial learning envi­ron­ment for North­eastern co-​​op stu­dents, as well. Twenty stu­dents have worked on co-​​op at JPL since 2008, including four stu­dents who are there now.

Elachi received a Bach­elor of Sci­ence in physics from the Uni­ver­sity of Grenoble, France; a Diplom-​​Ingenieur in engi­neering from the Poly­technic Insti­tute in Grenoble; and a Master of Sci­ence and doc­torate in elec­trical sci­ences from Cal­tech. He also holds an MBA from the Uni­ver­sity of Southern Cal­i­fornia, and a Master of Sci­ence in geology from the Uni­ver­sity of Cal­i­fornia, Los Angeles.

Last month, North­eastern announced that U.S. Sec­re­tary of State John F. Kerry will deliver the Com­mence­ment address at the university’s under­grad­uate cer­e­mony on Friday morning, May 6, at TD Garden in Boston.