Former Pasadena Jet Propulsion Scientist Now NASA Chief Scientist

Published : Tuesday, July 30, 2013 | 7:24 AM

A former Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientist who spent nine years in Pasadena has been named NASA Chief Scientist effective Aug. 25.

Planetary geologist Ellen Stofan, who held a number of senior scientist positions in NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena from 1991 to 2000, was given the new position by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden.

Stofan will also be Bolden’s principal advisor on the agency’s science programs and science-related strategic planning and investments.

While in Pasadena, Stofan became the chief scientist for NASA’s New Millennium Program, deputy project scientist for the Magellan Mission to Venus, and experiment scientist for SIR-C, an instrument that provided radar images of Earth on two shuttle flights in 1994.

Prior to her appointment as NASA’s chief scientist, Stofan was the vice president of Proxemy Research in Laytonsville, Md., and an honorary professor in the department of Earth sciences at University College London in England.

“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.”

Stofan is an associate member of the Cassini Mission to Saturn Radar Team and a co-investigator on the Mars Express Mission’s MARSIS sounder. She also conducts research on the geology of Venus, Mars, Saturn’s moon Titan, and Earth, and was the principal investigator on the Titan Mare Explorer, a proposed mission to send a floating lander to a sea on Titan.

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

She has received many awards and honors, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. Stofan has authored and published numerous 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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