Research Professor and Director of the Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University, Dr El-Baz received a BSc degree (1958) in chemistry and geology from Ain Shams University, Cairo, Egypt; an MS degree (1961); and a PhD degree (1964) both in geology and both from the University of Missouri-Rolla. He taught geology at Assiut University, Egypt (1958-1960), and at the University of Heidelberg, Germany (1964-1966). In 1989, he received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the New England College, Henniker, New Hampshire, USA.
He participated in the Apollo program from 1967 to 1972 as Supervisor of Lunar Science and of Lunar Exploration at Bellcomm Inc., Bell Laboratories, Washington DC. During the said six years, he was secretary of the site selection committee for NASA’s Apollo lunar landings, chairman of the astronaut training group, and principal investigator for visual observations and photography. 1973-1983, he established and directed the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC. 1982-1986, he was Vice-President for International Development and for Science and Technology at Itek Optical Systems of Lexington, Massachusetts.
Dr El-Baz served on the Steering Committee of Earth Sciences of the Smithsonian Institution and the Arid and Semi-Arid Research Needs Panel of the National Science Foundation. He also served as Science Adviser to the late Anwar Sadat, President of Egypt (1978-1981).
He is known for his pioneering work in the applications of space photography to the understanding of arid terrain, particularly the location of groundwater resources and has contributed to interdisciplinary field investigations in all major deserts of the world.
Dr El-Baz is President of the Arab Society of Desert Research. He has received many honors and awards including: NASA’s Apollo Achievement Award, Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal and Special Recognition Award; the Certificate of Merit of the World Aerospace Education Organization; and the Arab Republic of Egypt Order of Merit – First Class. He also received the 1989 Outstanding Achievement Award of the Egyptian American Organization, and the 1992 Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He also received the 1996 Michael T Halbouty Human Needs Award of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists.
Dr Farouk El-Baz was elected a Fellow of the Islamic World Academy of Sciences (IAS) in 1998.