Thomas Zurbuchen

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Thomas Zurbuchen
James Webb Space Telescope Town Hall (30702908816).jpg
EducationUniversity of Bern
Known forAssociate Administrator, NASA (2016-current)

Thomas Hansueli Zurbuchen (born 1968) is a Swiss-American astrophysicist. Since October 2016,[1] he has been the Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA.[2] Prior to this, he was Professor of Space Science and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan, where he helped found the Center for Entrepreneurship.


Zurbuchen studied physics at the University of Bern, with a minor in mathematics, and was awarded the PhD in 1996 with a thesis entitled "Turbulence in the interplanetary medium and its implications on the dynamics of minor ions".[3] He then joined the University of Michigan as a research associate, and was made professor in 2008. His scientific research focuses on solar and heliospheric physics, experimental space research, and space systems; he is also well known for his personal work on innovation and entrepreneurship.

In 2004, Zurbuchen was awarded the US Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.[4] He served as team leader for the development of one of the scientific instruments aboard NASA's Messenger spacecraft to Mercury, the Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer.[5] He chaired the National Academy of Sciences committee that produced a report in 2016 on Cubesats.[6]

Zurbuchen is married with two children.


  1. ^ "NASAWatch article announcing Zurbuchen's NASA appointment". Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  2. ^ "Thomas Zurbuchen bio at NASA". Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  3. ^ "Astrophysics Data System reference for Zurbuchen's thesis". Bibcode:1996PhDT........34Z.
  4. ^ "PRNewsWire article "White House Announces Awards for Early Career Scientists and Engineers"l".
  5. ^ "FIPS Page at University of Michigan". Retrieved 27 January 2017.
  6. ^ "Achieving Science with CubeSats: Thinking Inside the Box (2016)". Retrieved 17 January 2017.

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