Suzanne Imber

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Suzanne Imber
Suzie Imber at Goddard Space Flight Center.jpg
Imber at her desk at Goddard Space Flight Center in 2011
Alma materImperial College London
Known forPlanetary science, winner of BBC Two's Astronauts, Do You Have What It Takes?
AwardsLeverhulme Research Fellowship
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Leicester
Goddard Space Flight Center
ThesisAuroral and Ionospheric Flow Measurements of Magnetopause Reconnection During Intervals of Northward Interplanetary Magnetic Field (2008)
Doctoral advisorProf Steve Milan

Suzanne (Suzie) Imber (born May 1983) is a Planetary Scientist, and Pro-Vice Chancellor (Students) at the University of Leicester. She was the winner of the 2017 BBC Two television program Astronauts, Do You Have What It Takes?.


Suzie was born in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire.[1] She attended Berkhamsted School in Hertfordshire, and grew up with stories of 20th-century exploration in the Antarctic - a place she still dreams of visiting one day.[2] One highlight of her school years was winning the Lacrosse National Championships in 2000.[3] She studied a 4-year physics degree at Imperial College London, from where she graduated with a first class honours in 2005.[2] She captained the University of London Lacrosse team and went on to play for the England under-21s.[1] She undertook two internships at NASA during her time at Imperial, working in the Heliophysics Division at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, which steered her in the direction of planetary science. She undertook a PhD, (completed in 2008) entitled, Auroral and Ionospheric Flow Measurements of Magnetopause Reconnection during Intervals of Northward Interplanetary Magnetic Field, at the University of Leicester.[4]

Research and career[edit]

Suzie joined the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland in 2008 as a NASA research scientist.[5] Here she studied 'Space Weather', contributing to the understanding of how energy and momentum from the solar wind influence the environments of the Earth and Mercury, using data from NASA and ESA spacecraft combined with ground-based observations.[5] Her supervisor and mentor was Professor Jim Slavin, who was involved with the MESSENGER mission to Mercury.[1]

In 2011 she returned to the University of Leicester as a postdoctoral Research Associate.[2] In 2014 she was awarded a Leverhulme Trust Fellowship, "Rough Winds do Shake the Magnetosphere of Mercury".[6] Suzie is a visiting professor at the University of Michigan, as well as the only UK member of NASA's MESSENGER Science Team, in recognition of her work studying Mercury's magnetosphere. She is a co-investigator on the Mercury Imaging X-ray Spectrometer (MIXS), an instrument designed and built at the University of Leicester, currently on board the European Space Agency's next Mercury mission, BepiColombo, which launched on 19 October 2018.[7] This instrument is designed to determine the composition of the surface of Mercury in unprecedented detail (aimed at resolving key questions about Mercury's formation and evolution), and will also measure Mercury's x-ray aurora, a phenomenon recently discovered by Suzie's research team studying the magnetosphere of Mercury.[8]

In 2017 Imber was selected for the BBC Two's Astronauts, Do You Have What It Takes?.[9][10][11][12] She endured several challenges, including speaking Russian in a centrifuge after enduring 4.5g, taking part in emergency procedures in an undersea training facility and taking her own blood.[13] She won the competition and received a recommendation from Chris Hadfield to join the European Space Agency.[14] Since winning, Suzie has launched a huge public engagement programme in her spare time, personally speaking with over 35,000 school children at hundreds of schools across the country, and giving over 60 public lectures in the course of 12 months. Her goal is to raise the aspirations of young people and share her journey and her enthusiasm for her career as a space scientist.[7][15][16][17][18][19][20]

In 2019, Imber gave the Claudia Parsons Memorial Lecture at Loughborough University.[21]


  1. ^ a b c "Interview with Suzie Imber". Times Higher Education (THE). 2017-10-12. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  2. ^ a b c si88. "Dr Suzanne Imber — University of Leicester". Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  3. ^ "Former pupil Suzie Imber wins BBC astronaut series - Berkhamsted". Berkhamsted. 2017-10-03. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  4. ^ "Auroral and Ionospheric Flow Measurements of Magnetopause Reconnection During Intervals of Northward Interplanetary Magnetic Field". Milan, Steve, Lester, Mark. 2008-11-12. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)CS1 maint: others (link)
  5. ^ a b "NASA - Fire and Ice: A Profile of Space Scientist Suzie Imber". Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  6. ^ "Applications - University of Leicester". University of Leicester. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  7. ^ a b "An Evening with Dr Suzie Imber | The Wildlife Trusts". Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  8. ^ "Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes? - Suzie, 33 - BBC Two". BBC. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  9. ^ University of Leicester (2017-10-01), Dr Suzie Imber - Astronauts: Do you have what it takes?, retrieved 2018-04-09
  10. ^ ap507. "Space scientist makes giant leap towards becoming an astronaut — University of Leicester". Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  11. ^ ew205. "Leicester scientist reaches the final of BBC Astronauts competition — University of Leicester". Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  12. ^ er134. "Leicester space scientist proves she has what it takes to become an astronaut — University of Leicester". Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  13. ^ Profile, Specialist Speakers. "Suzie Imber Speaker Profile". Specialist Speakers Speaker Bureau. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  14. ^ "Space scientist wins BBC astronaut show". BBC News. 2017-10-01. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  15. ^ "Suzie Imber –". Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  16. ^ Development, PodBean. "BBC Astronauts winner Dr Suzie Imber and Gravitational Waves". Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  17. ^ "'Astronauts: Do You Have What It Takes?' winner visits the North East with IOP – The Institute of Physics blog". The Institute of Physics blog. Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  18. ^ "200 invalid-request". Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  19. ^ "SuperDARN scientist Suzie Imber wins UK Astronaut contest". Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  20. ^ "Astronauts: Have you got what it takes? | Physics and Astronomy | University of Southampton". Retrieved 2018-04-09.
  21. ^ "2019 | Dr Suzanne Imber - Claudia Parsons memorial lecture | Chemistry | Loughborough University". Retrieved 2019-06-20.