Maria T. Zuber
Zuber speaking at the GRAIL MoonKAM Student Expo in 2012
|Born||June 27, 1958|
Norristown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of Pennsylvania, Brown University|
|Known for||Work on NASA remote-sensing missions; Principal investigator for the GRAIL mission|
|Awards||NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal|
|Institutions||Massachusetts Institute of Technology|
|Thesis||Unstable Deformation in Layered Media: Application to Planetary Lithospheres. (1986)|
|Doctoral advisor||E.M. Parmentier (Brown University)|
Maria T. Zuber (born June 27, 1958) is a member of the National Science Board and the Vice President for Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where she also holds the position of the E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. Zuber has been involved in more than half a dozen NASA planetary missions aimed at mapping the Moon, Mars, Mercury, and several asteroids. She is currently the principal investigator for the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) Mission, which is managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Education and professional work
Zuber received her B.A. in astronomy and geology from the University of Pennsylvania. She also earned Sc.M. and Ph.D. degrees, both in geophysics, from Brown University. Zuber later worked at Johns Hopkins University and served as a research scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. She joined the faculty of MIT in 1998 and was the chair of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences from 2003 to 2012. She is the first woman to lead a science department at MIT. Since 2012, she has been Vice President for Research at MIT.
Zuber's professional focus has been on the structure and tectonics of solid solar system objects. She is a pioneer in the measurement of the shapes of the surfaces of the inner planets, and in interpreting what those shapes mean for internal structure and dynamics, thermal history, and surface-atmosphere interactions. She specializes in using gravity and laser altimetry measurements to determine interior structure and evolution. The topographic maps of Mars and the Moon produced by her laser altimeters on the Mars Global Surveyor and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter spacecraft are more accurate than that of Earth. She has been a team member on 10 NASA planetary missions, including Mars Global Surveyor, Dawn, and MESSENGER.
Zuber became interested in planetary science at an early age. A desire to spread her childhood enthusiasm was one reason why she teamed up with former astronaut Sally Ride to include in the GRAIL mission components that would capture the imagination of young students. A student contest provided the names for the mission's two spacecraft, Ebb and Flow, and students can sign up to use GRAIL's Moon Knowledge Acquired by Middle school students (MoonKAM) instrument.
Zuber is a Fellow of the following professional societies:
- American Geophysical Union
- American Association for the Advancement of Science
- American Astronomical Society, Division for Planetary Sciences
- American Astronautical Society
- Geological Society of America
Honors and awards
- 2002: 50 Most Important Women in Science (Discover Magazine).
- 2004: NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal.
- 2007: American Astronautical Society/Planetary Society Carl Sagan Memorial Award.
- 2007: Geological Society of America G.K. Gilbert Award
- 2008: Honorary Doctor of Science degree from Brown University.
- 2008: Named as one of America's Best Leaders by U.S. News & World Report, with Fiona A. Harrison. Zuber and Harrison were the first two women to be selected as scientific leaders of NASA robotic missions.
- 2009: NASA Group Achievement Award for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Laser Ranging Team.
- 2010: NASA Group Achievement Award for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Team.
- 2012: Massachusetts Institute of Technology James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award.
- 2012: NASA Group Achievement Awards for (1) the GRAIL Science Team; (2) the GRAIL Project Office Team; and (3) the GRAIL Mission Formulation Team.
- 2012: NASA Outstanding Public Leadership Medal
- 2012: Harry Hess Medal, American Geophysical Union.
- 2012: International Academy of Astronautics Laurel for Team Achievement to MESSENGER Team.
- 2013: National Space Society, Space Pioneer Award in Science and Engineering, GRAIL Team.
- 2013: NASA Exceptional Achievement for Science, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Science Team.
- 2013: NASA Group Achievement Award for the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter - Laser Ranger Optical Communication Experiment.
- 2013: NASA Group Achievement Award for the Dawn Science Team.
- 2014: Buzz Aldrin Space Exploration Award, The Explorer's Club.
- 2015: Member, Johns Hopkins University Society of Scholars.
- 2015: MIT Freshman Advising Student Champion Award.
- 2015: Best Referee Award, Nature Publishing
- 2017: Eugene Shoemaker Distinguished Scientist Medal, NASA Solar System Exploration Virtual Science Institute
- 2019: Gerard P. Kuiper Prize in Planetary Sciences
- "Maria Zuber Vitae". MIT. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
- "Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory: Biography -- Maria Zuber". NASA. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
- "Maria Zuber appointed vice president for research".
- "MESSENGER NASA Science Update Panel Biographies". Applied Physics Laboratory. Retrieved 17 October 2012.
- "The World We Dream - Maria Zuber Zeitgeist Americas 2012". Retrieved 18 October 2012.
- "(6635) Zuber Asteroid". Universe Guide. Retrieved 2019-04-06.
- "MIT Scientist to Discuss "Expedition to an Asteroid" at Williams, Sept. 26". Office of Communications. Retrieved 2019-04-06.
- "The 50 Most Important Women in Science | DiscoverMagazine.com". Discover Magazine. Retrieved 2019-04-06.
- "Geological Society of America - 2007 GK Gilbert Award - Maria T. Zuber". www.geosociety.org. Retrieved 2019-04-06.
- Ewers, Justin. "America's Best Leaders: Fiona Harrison & Maria Zuber, NASA scientists". U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
- "Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter". lunar.gsfc.nasa.gov. Retrieved 2019-04-06.
- "MIT Killian Lectures". killianlectures.mit.edu. Retrieved 2019-04-04.
- "In Depth | GRAIL". Solar System Exploration: NASA Science. Retrieved 2019-04-04.
- "Harry H. Hess Medal". Honors Program. Retrieved 2019-04-04.
- "MESSENGER". messenger.jhuapl.edu. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
- "National Space Society|Working to Create a Spacefaring Civilization". Retrieved 2019-04-03.
- "Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter". lunar.gsfc.nasa.gov. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
- "LRO-LR Home Page". attic.gsfc.nasa.gov. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
- Greicius, Tony (2015-02-11). "Dawn". NASA. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
- "The Explorers Club -". www.explorers.org. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
- April 9, Hub staff report / Published; 2015 (2015-04-09). "Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars to induct 15 new members". The Hub. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
- "SSERVI Announces 2017 Award Winners". Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute. Retrieved 2019-04-03.
- "2019 Prize Recipients | Division for Planetary Sciences". dps.aas.org. Retrieved 2019-05-31.
- "Maria Zuber Awarded the 2019 Gerard P. Kuiper Prize in Planetary Sciences | MIT Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences". eapsweb.mit.edu. Retrieved 2019-05-31.