NASA today announced that Ellen Stofan will be NASA's next chief scientist. Starting August 25, Stofan will be NASA Administrator Charles Bolden's "principal advisor" on NASA science programs and "science-related strategic planning and investments."
Stofan is a geologist who has been researching Earth, Mars, Venus, and Saturn's moon Titan for decades. She is currently the vice president of Proxemy Research, a consulting company in Laytonsville, Maryland. She holds a geological sciences doctorate degree from Brown University.
Before entering private industry, Stofan was a researcher at NASA's Jet Propulstion Laboratory (JPL). From 1991 to 2000 she served a number of roles for NASA, including experiment scientist for the SIR-C device on space shuttle flights in 1994, deputy project scientist for NASA's Magellan probe, and chief scientist for NASA's New Millennium Program. Stofan is also a member of the Cassini mission's radar team and a co-investigator on the Mars Express' MARSIS instrument.
"Ellen brings an extraordinary range of scientific research knowledge and planetary exploration experience to the chief scientist position," said Bolden. "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."
Former NASA Chief Scientist Waleed Abdalati left his position at the end of 2012 to return to the University of Colorado. Gale Allen, the former associate chief scientist for life and microgravity sciences at NASA, has held the position of acting chief scientist since the beginning of 2013.