Ellen Stofan

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Ellen Stofan
Ellen Stofan (10409828915).jpg
Stofan in 2013 at the National Air and Space Museum event Close Encounters of the Planetary Minds
Born Oberlin, OH
Nationality American
Fields Planetary Science
Institutions NASA
Alma mater College of William and Mary, Brown University
Known for NASA Chief Scientist; Work on NASA planetary exploration missions; Principal investigator for the Titan Mare Explorer proposed mission.
Notable awards PECASE[1]

Ellen Stofan is the Chief Scientist of NASA and serves as principal advisor to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the agency’s science programs, planning and investments. Previously, she served as vice president of Proxemy Research in Laytonsville, Maryland, and as an honorary professor in the Earth sciences department at the University College London.

Early life and education[edit]

Ellen Stofan is the daughter of Andrew Stofan, a rocket engineer who worked for NASA in a number of roles including director of the NASA Lewis Research Center and associate administrator for NASA’s Space Station Office.[2]

Ellen Stofan received her Bachelor of Science degree in geology from the College of William & Mary in 1983 and went on to earn masters and doctorate degrees from Brown University.[2][3]


Stofan’s research has focused on the geology of Venus, Mars, Saturn's moon Titan, and Earth. She 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 was principal investigator on the Titan Mare Explorer, a proposed mission to send a floating lander to a sea on Titan. From 1991 through 2000, she held a number of senior scientist positions at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, including chief scientist for NASA's New Millennium Program, deputy project scientist for the Magellan Mission to Venus, and experiment scientist for Spaceborne Imaging Radar-C (SIR-C), an instrument that provided radar images of Earth on two Space Shuttle flights in 1994. Stofan has written 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.[4]

Awards and honors[edit]

Among her many awards, Stofan received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE).

Selected publications[edit]


  1. ^ Jet Propulsion Laboratory Press Release (1996).
  2. ^ a b Werner, Debra (Oct 7, 2013). "Profile: Ellen Stofan, NASA Chief Scientist". SpaceNews. 
  3. ^ "Alumna Ellen Stofan '83 to be NASA's chief scientist". News & Events. College of William & Mary. July 29, 2013. 
  4. ^ NASA bio

External links[edit]