Ellen Stofan

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Ellen Stofan
Ellen Stofan (10409828915).jpg
Stofan in 2013 at the National Air and Space Museum event Close Encounters of the Planetary Minds
Born (1961-02-24) February 24, 1961 (age 59)
Oberlin, Ohio
Alma materCollege of William & Mary, Brown University
Known forNASA Chief Scientist; Work on NASA planetary exploration missions; Principal investigator for the Titan Mare Explorer proposed mission. First woman Director of National Air and Space Museum
Scientific career
FieldsPlanetary Science
National Air and Space Museum

Ellen Renee Stofan (born February 24, 1961) is the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the National Air and Space Museum.[1] She is the first female Director of the museum, and began her tenure in April, 2018.

Stofan is the former Chief Scientist of NASA and served as principal advisor to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the agency's science programs, planning and investments. She resigned from NASA in December 2016. 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 J. 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]

College of William and Mary

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] Her doctoral thesis, awarded in 1989, was titled "Geology of coronae and domal structures on Venus and models of their origin." [4]


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 was also the principal investigator on the Titan Mare Explorer, a proposed mission for a floating lander to be sent to 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.[5]

Awards and honors[edit]

Among her many awards, Stofan received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) in 1996.[6]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Stofan, Ellen; Cravens, Thomas E.; Esposito, Larry W., eds. (2007). Exploring Venus as a Terrestrial Planet. American Geophysical Union.
  • Stofan, Ellen; Jones, Tom (2008). Planetology: Unlocking the Secrets of the Solar System. National Geographic. ISBN 978-1-4262-0121-9.


  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. ^ Stofan, Ellen (1989). Geology of coronae and domal structures on Venus and models of their origin (Thesis). Brown University.
  5. ^ Loff, Sarah (24 February 2015). "Dr. Ellen Stofan, Chief Scientist". nasa.gov.
  6. ^ "President Selects Outstanding Young Scientists". Office of the Press Secretary. December 16, 1996. Retrieved June 23, 2020.

External links[edit]