Paul M. Kintner Jr., professor of electrical and computer engineering and head of the Global Positioning Systems Laboratory at Cornell, died at his home in Ithaca Nov. 16 after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 64.
Kintner was an internationally recognized authority on the interaction of radio signals, both natural and man-made, with space environments, particularly the ionsophere and magnetosphere. His studies included the effect of the space environment on GPS signals. During the 2009-10 academic year, he served as a Jefferson Science Fellow at the U.S. Department of State, advising the government on GPS, navigational satellite systems, space weather and other scientific topics with implications for defense and national security.
Kintner earned his undergraduate degree from the University of Rochester in 1968 and a Ph.D. in plasma physics from the University of Minnesota in 1974 for work on the space environment of the northern lights. He continued this work with the Space Physics Group at the University of Iowa until 1976, when he moved to Cornell as a research associate. He was appointed to the Cornell faculty in 1981.
He was a fellow of the American Physical Society and a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. He chaired the Living with a Star/Geospace Mission Definition Team and NASA's Sun-Earth Connections Advisory Subcommittee. He served on National Research Council committees on Solar and Space Physics and the Economic and Societal Impacts of Severe Solar Storms. In 2007, he convened an American Geophysical Union Chapman Conference on mid-latitude ionospheric dynamics and disturbances, leading to a monograph by the same name. In September 2009, he delivered the Birkland Lecture to the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters.
He was a mentor to generations of Cornell students and younger faculty members, often at pivotal points in their professional development, and continued to advise graduate students and colleagues preparing for a sounding rocket research campaign in Norway until days before his death.
He is survived by his wife, Constance Bart Kintner, four children and extended family. He was predeceased by his first wife, Janet Rae Smith-Kintner.
A celebration of Kintner's life will be held within the next few months. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory can be made to the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Cornell or to Hospicare and Palliative Care Services of Tompkins County.