Ellen Stofan, who earned a Ph.D. in geological sciences from Brown, has been named NASA’s chief scientist, the agency has announced. Stofan will take over on August 25th as NASA Administrator Charles Bolden’s principal adviser on science programs and science-related strategic planning and investments. “As a Ph.D. student, Ellen Stofan did fundamental research in the new data from the planet Venus obtained by the Soviet Venera 15-16 mission and showed her capability as an international scientist even as a student by visiting the Soviet Union as part of the Brown University-Vernadsky Institute cooperative agreement,” said James W. Head, Stofan’s Ph.D. adviser. “She co-authored a paper on the newly discovered enigmatic corona features on Venus with Alex Pronin of the Vernadsky Institute. Her success led to her immediate leadership position as deputy project scientist in the NASA Magellan mission to Venus, an unprecedented global mission to map the planet.” Stofan is the second Brown Ph.D. to hold the top science post at NASA after James Garvin.

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