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NASA names planetary geologist Ellen Stofan as new chief scientist

NASA names planetary geologist Ellen Stofan as new chief scientist

NASA names planetary geologist Ellen Stofan as new chief scientist

Ellen Stofan, NASA's new chief scientist. Image via College of William and Mary

Planetary geologist Ellen Stofan will join NASA on 25 August as the US space agency’s new chief scientist.

Stofan will be working as NASA Administrator Charles Bolden’s principal adviser on NASA’s science programmes and science-related strategic planning and investments.

Most recently, Stofan has been working as vice-president of Proxemy Research in Laytonsville, Maryland, and as honorary professor in the department of Earth sciences at University College London in England.

Stofan is no stranger to NASA, however. She held several senior scientist positions at the agency from 1991-2000, at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

“Ellen brings an extraordinary range of scientific research knowledge and planetary exploration experience to the chief scientist position,” Bolden said. “Her breadth of experience and familiarity with the agency will allow her to hit the ground running. We’re fortunate to have her on our team.”

Research out of this world

Stofan researches the geology of Venus, Mars, Saturn’s moon Titan, and Earth.

She is also an associate member of the Cassini Mission to Saturn Radar Team and a co-investigator on the Mars Express Mission’s MARSIS sounder. She has also been principal investigator on the Titan Mare Explorer, a proposed mission to send a floating lander to a sea on Titan.

Stofan holds master’s and doctorate degrees in geological sciences from Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and a bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

She has received many awards and honours, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

Stofan has also written and published professional papers, books and book chapters, and has chaired committees, including the National Research Council Inner Planets Panel for the recent Planetary Science Decadal Survey and the Venus Exploration Analysis Group.

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