An illustration of sun gleaming off the surface of another planet.Register for this special event with Ellen Stofan, whose research focuses on the geology of other planets, for a lecture and Q&A session.

Dean’s Distinguished Lecture with Ellen Stofan
Tuesday, April 27, 2021
11 a.m.–noon (Q&A at 11:40 a.m.)
Register to attend this online event

Ellen Stofan is the Undersecretary for Science and Research as well as the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. Stofan started in April 2018 and is the first woman to hold this position.

Stofan comes to the position with more than 25 years’ experience in space-related organizations and a deep research background in planetary geology. She was chief scientist at NASA (2013–2016), serving as the principal advisor to former Administrator Charles Bolden on NASA’s strategic planning and programs. She helped guide the development of a long-range plan to get humans to Mars, and worked on strategies for NASA to support commercial activity in low Earth orbit as it transitions from the International Space Station (ISS) to sending humans to the moon and Mars in the mid-2020s.

She earned her bachelor’s degree in geology at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, and her master’s and doctoral degrees at Brown University, both in geological sciences. While finishing her doctoral degree, Stofan joined the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) as a post-doctoral fellow and became the deputy project scientist for the Magellan Mission to Venus.

Stofan’s research focuses on the geology of Venus, Mars, Saturn’s moon Titan and Earth. Her favorite mission was Cassini, primarily because of her interest in Titan.

She has published extensively and received many awards and honors, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, and was named one of “CNN’s Extraordinary People of 2014.” She is co-author of the books Planetology: Unlocking the Secrets of the Solar System and Next Earth: What Our World Can Teach Us About Other Planets, both published by National Geographic.