AUSTIN (KXAN) — An aerospace engineer and professor at the University of Texas at Austin was awarded an honor called the “genius grant.”

UT Austin said astrodynamicist and space environmentalist Moriba Jah was one of 25 people to be chosen for the five-year MacArthur Fellowship.

The university explained the fellowship invests in a person’s originality, insight and potential, and recipients are nominated based on talent and dedication to their pursuits.

“They may use their fellowship to advance their expertise, engage in bold new work, or, if they wish, to change fields or alter the direction of their careers,” the fellowship’s website read.

Jah has been working to track the over 30,000 human-made objects orbiting Earth, UT said. He’s developed tools to determine the precise locations and possible paths of these objects, which include active and inactive satellites, rocket bodies and other debris.

This allows scientists to know where the objects are in relation to each other and if/when a collision could happen, according to UT. The tools, ASTRIAGraph and Wayfinder, are online and available to everyone.

“The orbital highways are getting crowded, and the services and capabilities that we depend upon are in jeopardy of being lost due to collisions from orbiting space debris, and it’s very difficult to predict where and when those things might happen,” Jah said in a press release.

Jah also is an advocate for space environmentalism, UT said, which views Earth’s orbit as a natural resource that needs protection. Jah has proposed policies to prevent single-use satellites from polluting the orbit and instead incentivize companies to reuse old satellites.

Jah is the 10th UT Austin faculty member to have been awarded a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, according to the university.