Farouk El-Baz (1938- ) was born in Zagazig, Egypt. He received a B.S. in Chemistry and Geology in 1958 from Ain Shams University, Cairo. In 1960 he came to the United States, where he earned an M.S. in geology at the Missouri School of Mines and Metallurgy in 1961 and a Ph.D. in geology at the University of Missouri in 1964. After teaching for a short period, he worked as an exploration geologist for an oil company, 1966-1967.
In 1967 he joined the staff of the Lunar Exploration Department of Bellcomm, Inc., and Bell Telephone Laboratories, and in 1969, became supervisor of lunar science planning and lunar science operations. In this position, he worked directly with the United States space program on lunar data analysis, landing site selection, lunar exploration planning, and orbital science crew training. In 1969 he was named a member of the Apollo Program Science Support Team.
At Bellcomm El-Baz began pioneering work in remote sensing in which a variety of scientific means are used to examine the surface of the earth or the moon from space. This work led him into the use of space photography to study the earth's deserts.
In 1973 El-Baz joined the staff of the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum, where he established the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies, which he directed until 1982. At the same time, he served as science advisor to President Anwar Sadat of Egypt, 1978-1981.
In 1982 El-Baz became Vice President for International Development at Itek Optical Systems in Lexington, Massachusetts. In 1986 he accepted the position of Director of the Boston University Center for Remote Sensing.
In addition to his work on remote sensing, El-Baz is also known for his participation in the International Astronomical Union's Task Group for Lunar Nomenclature, which was responsible for naming the features of the moon's surface geography.
El-Baz has been a citizen of the United States since 1970.