Committee and Staff Biographical Information
MARTHA S. GILMORE, Co-Chair, is the Seney Professor of Geology in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Wesleyan University. Gilmore is a geologist who specializes in the study of planetary surfaces using geomorphic mapping and visible to near-infrared spectroscopy on Venus, Mars, and Earth. Gilmore is a science team member on the DAVINCI and VERITAS missions to Venus. Gilmore is a fellow of the Geological Society of America and a recipient of that body’s Randolph W. “Bill” and Cecile T. Bromery Award. Gilmore received a Ph.D. in geological sciences from Brown University.
CHRISTOPHER H. HOUSE, Co-Chair, is a professor of geosciences at The Pennsylvania State University. House is also the director of the Penn State Astrobiology Research Center, director of the Pennsylvania Space Grant Consortium, and holds a joint faculty appointment between the Penn State Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences and the Penn State Department of Geosciences. House’s research interests focus on microbial diversity and cultivation, microbial paleontology, molecular evolution and genomics, astrobiology, and geomicrobiology. House is a past member of the Planetary Science Subcommittee of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Advisory Council and the Scientific Ocean Drilling Vessel Program Advisory Committee. In addition, House is an Ocean Drilling Program Distinguished Lecturer. House earned a Ph.D. in geology from the University of California, Los Angeles.
ERIK ASPHAUG is a professor of planetary sciences at the University of Arizona in the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. Asphaug’s research interests include the use of large-scale computer simulations to study planetary physics on both large and small scales, including the geologic makeup and evolution of asteroids and comets, what happens when asteroids and comets impact planets, and giant impacts, such as the one believed to have formed the Moon. Asphaug is a recipient of the American Astronomical Society’s (AAS’s) Harold C. Urey Prize. Asphaug received a Ph.D. in planetary science from the University of Arizona.
BETHANY L. EHLMANN is a professor of planetary science at the California Institute of Technology. Ehlmann’s research interests include planetary surface processes, infrared spectroscopy, the evolution of Mars, and water–rock interactions throughout the solar system. Previously, she was a European Union Marie Curie Fellow and a collaborator on the Mars Exploration Rovers during their primary and first extended missions and an affiliate of the Dawn science team for its Ceres phase. Ehlmann is a co-investigator (co-I) and a deputy principal investigator (PI) for the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars, participating scientist on the Mars Science Laboratory mission, co-I for the Mars-2020 rover’s Mastcam-Z and SHERLOC instruments, and PI of the Lunar Trailblazer. She is a recipient of the Division for Planetary Sciences Urey Prize, the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU’s) Macelwane medal, the Committee on Space Research’s Zeldovich medal, National Geographic’s Emerging Explorer award, the Mineralogical Society of America’s Distinguished Lecturer award, as well as NASA Group Achievement awards. Ehlmann earned a Ph.D. in geological sciences from Brown
University. She has served on the Committee on Astrobiology and Planetary Sciences of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
KATHERINE H. FREEMAN is the Evan Pugh University Professor in the Department of Geosciences at The Pennsylvania State University. Research interests include astrobiology, biogeochemistry, organic geochemistry, past climates and environments, and new methods in molecular stable-isotope analyses. Freeman is the co-editor of the Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Freeman is a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and a fellow of the AGU, the Geochemical Society, the Geological Society of America, the American Academy of Microbiology, and the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Freeman is a recipient of the Triebs Award from the Geochemical Society, the Science Innovation Award from the European Association of Geochemistry, and the Cozzarelli Prize from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Freeman received a Ph.D. in geology from Indiana University.
ALEXANDER G. HAYES is an associate professor of astronomy in the Department of Astronomy at Cornell University. Research interests include comparative planetology and solar system exploration, with a special interest in the ocean worlds of the outer solar system and the use of spacecraft-based platforms to study the properties of planetary surfaces, including an engineering background in instrument design and calibration. Hayes’s NASA flight project experience includes Cassini, Mars Exploration Rovers, Mars Science Laboratory, Mars2020, and the Europa Multiple Flyby Mission. Hayes has also worked on instrument design and characterization for several Missile Defense Agency Programs including Terminal High Area Defense, Standard Missile-3, and Exoatmospheric Kill Vehicle. Hayes is the recipient of the Zeldovich Medal from COSPAR and the Russian Academy of Sciences, the Ronald Greely Early Career Award from the AGU, the Sigma Xi Young Scholar Procter Prize, and a NASA Early Career Fellowship. Hayes recently served as a member of the science definition teams for the Europa Lander and Ice Giants mission concept studies. Hayes received a Ph.D. in planetary science from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).
SARAH M. HÖRST is an associate professor at Johns Hopkins University in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences and an adjunct astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute. Hörst’s primary research interest is atmospheric chemistry, particularly the complex organic chemistry occurring in the atmosphere or on the surface of bodies in the solar system. Hörst was a National Science Foundation (NSF) astronomy and astrophysics postdoctoral fellow at the University of Colorado and is a recipient of the Gerard P. Kuiper Memorial Award from the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona. Hörst received a Ph.D. in planetary science from the University of Arizona.
EDWIN S. KITE is an assistant professor of planetary science at The University of Chicago and leads the university’s planetary geoscience research group. Research interests include understanding the habitability of early Mars, modeling surface-interior exchange on Europa and Enceladus, and modeling rocky exoplanets. Previously, Kite was an O.K. Earl Postdoctoral Fellow at Caltech, and a Harry Hess Postdoctoral Research Associate and a postdoctoral research associate in astrophysics at Princeton University. Kite is a recipient of the Greeley Early Career Award in Planetary Science from the AGU. Kite received a Ph.D. in planetary geoscience from the University of California, Berkeley.
RAMANARAYANAN KRISHNAMURTHY is an associate professor of chemistry at The Scripps Research Institute. Krishnamurthy is a member of the NSF/NASA Center for Chemical Evolution, the Simons Collaboration on the Origins of Life, and a co-lead of the Prebiotic Chemistry and Early Earth Environments (PCE3) Consortium within the NASA Astrobiology Program. Krishnamurthy is a fellow of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life and received the Chemical Research Society of India medal for 2021. Krishnamurthy received a Ph.D. in chemistry from The Ohio State University.
MELISSA A. MCGRATH is a senior scientist at the SETI Institute. Previously, McGrath served as the chief scientist at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. McGrath’s research expertise includes planetary and satellite atmospheres and magnetospheres, particularly imaging and spectroscopic studies of Jupiter’s Galilean satellites. McGrath is currently a co-I on the Ultraviolet Spectrometer instrument on the European Space Agency’s JUICE mission to Ganymede, as well as a co-I on two instruments for NASA’s Europa Clipper mission. McGrath served as the chair of the AAS Division for Planetary Sciences; as the president of the International Astronomical Union’s Commission 16 (Physical Studies of Planets and Satellites); and is a scientific editor for the AAS journals The Astrophysical Journal, The Astronomical Journal, The Astrophysical Journal Letters, and The Astrophysical Journal Supplement. McGrath has been awarded the NASA Exceptional Service Medal, the NASA Superior Accomplishment Award, and the NASA Ames Honor Award in Lunar Science. McGrath earned a Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Virginia.
ALISON E. MURRAY is a research professor of biology at the Desert Research Institute (DRI). Murray is adjunct faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno, in the molecular biosciences and hydrology programs, a subcontractor of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and has held visiting professorships with the University Pierre et Marie Curie, France, and the University of New South Wales, Australia. Murray’s research interests include microbial ecology and genomics, biological oceanography, life in extreme environments, and astrobiology. Murray has worked extensively in the poles studying free-living and symbiotic life in the ocean and the microbial process associated with icebergs; and in ice-covered methane lakes of Alaska and briny ecosystems under Antarctic lake ice. Murray has received honors from DRI and the Nevada System of Higher Education Regeants Researcher Award. Murray has served as a U.S. representative to the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research Life Sciences Standing Group. Murray received a Ph.D. in ecology, evolution, and marine biology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
CLIVE R. NEAL is a professor of planetary geology at the University of Notre Dame in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences. Neal was instrumental in developing the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group Lunar Exploration Roadmap at the request of the NASA Advisory Council during the Vision for Space Exploration Program. Neal has published more than 100 papers in scientific journals and has been involved in many NASA and NSF review panels. Neal is emeritus chair of the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group. Neal chaired the NASA Senior Review of Planetary Science Missions, as well as the Mars 2020 Instrument Review Panel. Neal received the Michael J. Wargo Award for the Integration of Exploration and Planetary Science from NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute. Neal received a Ph.D. in mantle petrology and geochemistry from the University of Leeds, United Kingdom.
BETH N. ORCUTT is a senior research scientist and geomicrobiologist at the Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. Orcutt’s research interests include how microbial life survives in extreme environments in deep-sea and other aquatic environments and the role these microbes play in global chemical cycles. Orcutt also serves as a steering committee member for two NASA Astrobiology Research Coordination Networks: the Network for Life Detection and the Network for Ocean Worlds. Orcutt has received the Ashaiko Taira International Scientific Ocean Drilling Research Prize, jointly awarded by the AGU and the Japan Geoscience Union. Orcutt received a Ph.D. in marine sciences from the University of Georgia.
MATTHEW PASEK is a professor of geoscience at the University of South Florida. His research interests include the chemistry of phosphorus in planetary systems, from planetary-scale cosmochemistry to prebiotic chemistry. Pasek also works on modern phosphorus geochemistry and its environmental impacts as an independent consultant. Pasek is a current member of the American Chemical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the Meteoritical Society. Pasek received the Stanley Miller early-career award from the International Society for the Study of the Origin
of Life and a Templeton Ideas prize. Pasek received a Ph.D. in planetary science from the University of Arizona.
KARYN L. ROGERS is an associate professor of earth and environmental sciences and the director of the Rensselaer Astrobiology Research and Education Center at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Rogers’s research interests include the relationships between microbial communities and environmental conditions in extreme ecosystems. Rogers’s research program includes field research in early Earth and Mars analog environments as well as laboratory experimental studies of microbial behavior under extreme conditions. The field endeavors are combined with extensive laboratory analytical and experimental techniques to develop a holistic picture of functional microbial ecosystems. Rogers also serves as a member of the New York Center for Astrobiology and the Institute for Data Exploration and Applications. Rogers received a Ph.D. in Earth and planetary sciences from Washington University in St. Louis.
NITA SAHAI is a professor and the Ohio Research Scholar in Biomaterials in the Department of Polymer Science at the University of Akron. Sahai was a professor of geochemistry at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, where Sahai received the Romnes Faculty Fellowship. Sahai’s research interests include biomolecular and cellular interactions with biomaterials and minerals, interfacial chemistry, the origins and early evolution of life, and the relationship between molecular-level, nanoscale, and macroscopic properties. Sahai has been a PI on the Simons Collaboration on the Origins of Life, and a recipient of the NSF CAREER award. Sahai is a fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America and was that society’s Distinguished Lecturer. Sahai received a Ph.D. in geochemistry from Johns Hopkins University.
DAVID J. STEVENSON is the Marvin L. Goldberger Professor of Planetary Science at Caltech. Stevenson’s research focus is theoretical planetary science, including Earth, large moons, and planets in other solar systems. Stevenson’s research applies condensed matter physics and fluid dynamics to data from space missions, including NASA’s Galileo, Cassini, and Juno missions. Stevenson served as the chair of the Geological and Planetary Sciences Division and as the chair of the faculty at Caltech. Stevenson is a member of the NAS and a fellow of the AGU, the AAAS, and The Royal Society (London). Stevenson is a winner of the Division of Planetary Science (AAS) Urey Prize, AGU’s Whipple Award, and the Hess Medal. Stevenson received a Ph.D. in theoretical physics from Cornell University.
DANIEL NAGASAWA, Interim Study Director, joined the Space Studies Board (SSB) in 2019 and is a program officer. Before joining the SSB, he was a graduate research assistant specializing in stellar astrophysics, measuring the abundance of elements in the atmospheres of very old, metal-poor stars. Nagasawa began his research career as an undergraduate research assistant for the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search. When he began graduate school, he transitioned to designing and evaluating astronomical instrumentation, specifically ground-based spectrographs. He went on to specialize in high-resolution stellar spectroscopy and applied these techniques on stars in ultra-faint dwarf satellite galaxies of the Milky Way to study the chemical history of the Galaxy as part of the Dark Energy Survey (DES). He also developed skills in education and public outreach by teaching an observational astronomy course and writing for an outreach initiative for DES. Nagasawa earned his Ph.D. in astronomy and M.S. in physics at Texas A&M University and his B.S. in physics with a concentration in astrophysics from Stanford University.
MEGAN CHAMBERLAIN joined the SSB and the Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB) as a senior program assistant in September 2019. Chamberlain began her career at the National Academies in 2007 working for the Transportation Research Board in the Cooperative Research Programs. She has
assisted with meeting facilitation and administrative support of hundreds of research projects over the course of her career. Chamberlain attended the University of the District of Columbia and majored in psychology.
COLLEEN N. HARTMAN joined the National Academies in 2018 as the director for both the SSB and the ASEB. After beginning her government career as a presidential management intern under Ronald Reagan, Hartman worked on Capitol Hill for House Science and Technology Committee Chairman Don Fuqua, as a senior engineer building spacecraft at NASA Goddard, and as a senior policy analyst at the White House. She has served as the Planetary Division director, deputy associate administrator, and acting associate administrator at NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, as the deputy assistant administrator at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and as the deputy center director and director of science and exploration at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Hartman has built and launched scientific balloon payloads, overseen the development of hardware for a variety of Earth-observing spacecraft, and served as the NASA program manager for dozens of missions, the most successful of which was the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE). Data from the COBE spacecraft gained two NASA-sponsored scientists the Nobel Prize in physics in 2006. She also played a pivotal role in developing innovative approaches to powering space probes destined for the solar system’s farthest reaches. While at NASA Headquarters, she spearheaded the selection process for the New Horizons probe to Pluto. She helped gain administration and congressional approval for an entirely new class of funded missions that are competitively selected, called “New Frontiers,” to explore the planets, asteroids, and comets in the solar system. She has several master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in physics. Hartman has received numerous awards, including two prestigious Presidential Rank Awards.