Maria Zuber

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Maria T. Zuber
Maria Zuber - GRAIL MoonKAM Student Expo 2012.jpg
Zuber speaking at the GRAIL MoonKAM Student Expo in 2012
Born (1958-06-27) June 27, 1958 (age 60)
Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of Pennsylvania, Brown University
Known forWork on NASA remote-sensing missions; Principal investigator for the GRAIL mission
AwardsNASA Distinguished Public Service Medal
Scientific career
FieldsPlanetary Science
InstitutionsMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Doctoral advisorMarc Parmentier

Maria T. Zuber (born June 27, 1958) is a member of the National Science Board and the Vice President for Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she also holds the position of the E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences.[1] Zuber has been involved in more than half a dozen NASA planetary missions aimed at mapping the Moon, Mars, Mercury, and several asteroids. She is currently the principal investigator for the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) Mission, which is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.[2]

Education and professional work[edit]

Zuber received her B.A. in astronomy and geology from the University of Pennsylvania. She also earned Sc.M. and Ph.D. degrees, both in geophysics, from Brown University. Zuber later worked at Johns Hopkins University and served as a research scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. She joined the faculty of MIT in 1998 and was the chair of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences from 2003 to 2012.[1] She is the first woman to lead a science department at MIT.[2] Since 2012, she has been Vice President for Research at MIT.[3]

Zuber's professional focus has been on the structure and tectonics of solid solar system objects. She specializes in using gravity and laser altimetry measurements to determine interior structure and evolution. She has been a team member on 10 NASA planetary missions, including Mars Global Surveyor, Dawn, and MESSENGER.[1][4]

Zuber became interested in planetary science at an early age. A desire to spread her childhood enthusiasm was one reason why she teamed up with former astronaut Sally Ride to include in the GRAIL mission components that would capture the imagination of young students. A student contest provided the names for the mission's two spacecraft, Ebb and Flow, and students can sign up to use GRAIL's Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students (MoonKAM) instrument.[2][5]

Zuber is a member of the following professional societies:[1]

Honors and awards[edit]

Zuber was awarded the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal in 2004.[1] In 2008, Zuber received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from Brown University. Later that year, along with Fiona Harrison, a physics professor at the California Institute of Technology, she was named as one of America's Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report.[6] Zuber and Harrison were the first two women to be selected as scientific leaders of NASA robotic missions.


List of Maria Zuber publications (PDF)


  1. ^ a b c d e "Maria Zuber Vitae". MIT. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
  2. ^ a b c "Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory: Biography -- Maria Zuber". NASA. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
  3. ^ "Maria Zuber appointed vice president for research".
  4. ^ "MESSENGER NASA Science Update Panel Biographies". Applied Physics Laboratory. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
  5. ^ "The World We Dream - Maria Zuber Zeitgeist Americas 2012". Retrieved 18 October 2012.
  6. ^ Ewers, Justin. "America's Best Leaders: Fiona Harrison & Maria Zuber, NASA scientists". U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved 16 October 2012.

External links[edit]