Claudia Alexander

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Claudia Alexander
Claudia Alexander.jpg
Born 1959
Fields Planetary science
Institutions Jet Propulsion Lab
Alma mater UC Berkeley
University of Michigan

Claudia J. Alexander (1959[1]-), Ph.D., is a research scientist specializing in geophysics and planetary science. She is African American. She has worked for the United States Geological Survey and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. As member of the technical staff at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory,[2] she was the last project manager of NASA's Galileo mission to Jupiter[3] and is currently project manager and scientist of NASA's role in the European led Rosetta mission[4] to study comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.


Alexander wanted to be a journalist but her parents—who were paying for her education—wanted her to become an engineer.[2] After a summer job at the Ames Research Center, she became interested in planetary science. Although she had been hired to work in the engineering section, she would sneak off to the science section where she found that not only was she good at the work, but that it was easier and more enjoyable to her than she had expected.[5] In 1983 she received a Bachelor degree from the University of California, Berkeley in geophysics,[5] which she thought would be a good background for a planetary scientist.[5] Alexander earned her Master's from University of California, Los Angeles in Geophysics and Space Physics in 1985.[5] She earned her Ph.D. in the physics of space plasma from the University of Michigan in 1993[5]—where she was named Woman of the Year.[2]

She worked at the United States Geological Survey studying plate tectonics[2] and the Ames Research Center observing Jovian moons,[2] before moving to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in 1986.[2] She worked as science coordinator for the plasma wave instrument aboard the Galileo spacecraft [6] before becoming the project manager of the Galileo mission.

Alexander has worked as a researcher on diverse topics, including: the evolution and interior physics of comets, Jupiter and its moons, magnetospheres, plate tectonics, space plasma, the discontinuities and expansion of solar wind, and the planet Venus. She has written or co-authored fourteen papers.[2]

In 2003, she was awarded the Emerald Honor for Women of Color in Research & Engineering by Career Communications Group, Inc.—publisher of Black Engineer & Information Technology Magazine—at the National Women of Color Research Sciences and Technology Conference.[7]

Alexander is a member of the American Geophysical Union[4] and the Association for Women Geoscientists.[2]


  1. ^ [1], Multicultural Environmental Leadership Development Initiative profile
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Windows to the Universe, Biography of Claudia Alexander. University Corporation of Atmospheric Research (UCAR)
  3. ^ Journey's End: Last Gasp for Galileo by Leonard David,, September 21, 2003
  4. ^ a b University of Michigan Alumnae profiles' entry on Alexander
  5. ^ a b c d e Association for Women Geoscientists profile of Alexander
  6. ^ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette online, Scientist keeps an eye on comets by Dan Malerbo
  7. ^ JPL press release, Research Scientist Receives National Minority Award

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