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John Horack

Professor, Neil Armstrong Chair in Aerospace Policy

Dr. John M. Horack is the Neil Armstrong Chair in Aerospace Policy, and holds a joint appointment between the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering in the College of Engineering, and the John Glenn College of Public Affairs.

Before coming to Ohio State in 2016, Horack served as the vice president for space systems at Teledyne Brown Engineering, as the vice president for research at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and spent nearly two decades as a NASA civil servant, performing original theoretical and experimental research in high-energy astrophysics, cosmology and gamma-ray bursts, as well as serving as a member of the Senior Executive Service, leading the Science and Mission Systems Office at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center.

He also serves as one of the 12 vice presidents of the International Astronautical Federation, and one of only two Americans, responsible for the technical aspects of the federation, and for the evolution of the annual International Astronautical Congress. He also provides significant consultation services to a number of commercial space start-up companies, to heads of civil space agencies, and to economic development interests tied to spaceflight.


Horack is the author or co-author of over 100 scientific papers, conference proceedings and publications across subjects including space policy, atmospheric physics and high-energy astrophysics. He was an important member of the scientific teams which discovered the existence of flashes of gamma-rays from terrestrial thunderstorms, and the breakthrough scientific discovery that gamma-ray bursts originate from cosmological distances. He is a sought-after public speaker and authority on space-related matters across the commercial, civil and national security space domains.

Horack holds a doctorate and a master’s degree in astrophysics from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and a bachelor’s degree in physics and astronomy from Northwestern University. He is an FAA-licensed flight instructor, with commercial and instrument pilot ratings.

Portable Innovation, Policy Wormholes, and Innovation Diffusion
Environmental Policy and Management
August 07, 2019
This article explores the effects of city managers' career paths on the diffusion of climate policy innovation among municipal governments in the United States.
The COVID-19 Pandemic and Student Achievement on Ohio’s Third-Grade English Language Arts Assessment
January 27, 2021
This report draws on data from the fall administration of Ohio’s annual Third-Grade English Language Arts assessment to examine how the COVID pandemic has affected student learning in the state.
Whatever it Takes: Sexual Harassment in the Context of Resource Dependence
Social Policy
March 09, 2021
Research suggests powerful resource dependencies are present in the public and nonprofit sectors.
Glenn College Releases Review of Columbus Response to 2020 Protests
Civic Engagement, Advocacy and Volunteerism
April 26, 2021
In July 2020, Columbus City leaders commissioned an independent, outside after-action review of the City’s response to protests that took place last summer. Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio Carter Stewart and the John Glenn College of Public Affairs were named the lead investigative team.
Resilience Decision Making in Repeated Disasters
Public Finance and Budgeting
June 07, 2021
The research, published in Environment Systems and Decisions Journal, examines resilience decision making in the context of repeated catastrophic events.
Maximizing the Efficiency of Active Case Finding for SARS-CoV-2 Using Bandit Algorithms
June 14, 2021
Using bandit algorithms, the authors of a paper in Medical Decision Making present and test an approach for finding otherwise undetected cases of COVID-19 before they lead to a widespread outbreak.
Not All High-Growth Firms Are Alike: Capturing and Tagging Ohio’s Gazelles
June 29, 2021
In this study, published in Economic Development Quarterly, the authors present a statistically valid typology of high-growth firms, also known as gazelles, to determine if payroll and job growth patterns differ between groups or clusters.
How the COVID-19 Pandemic Affected Student Learning in Ohio
August 27, 2021
Analysis of Spring 2021 Ohio State Tests
Informational Determinants of Large-area Hurricane Evacuations
Environmental Policy and Management
August 30, 2021
This study, published in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, presents an experimental design that overcomes the counterfactual problem present in all prior published experiments by relying on an actual storm with a known outcome.