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February 15, 2006

Outgoing NASA Ames center director Hubbard accepts visiting scholar appointment

By Dawn Levy

Outgoing NASA Ames Research Center Director G. Scott Hubbard, who steps down from that position today, has accepted a visiting scholar appointment in the Electrical Engineering Department. The appointment became effective Feb. 1.

"In my 30-year career in research, mostly in the Bay Area, I have developed many ongoing collaborations with Stanford faculty and staff," Hubbard said in an e-mail interview. "Clearly, Stanford is a world leader in many areas that are of interest to me¬ónot only in science but in entrepreneurial pursuits as well. It was an easy choice to select Stanford as a site for a visiting scholar appointment."

Hubbard, who conceived the Mars Pathfinder mission, holds the Carl Sagan Chair for the Study of Life in the Universe at the SETI Institute, which is dedicated to understanding the origin, nature and prevalence of life in the cosmos. Hubbard joined SETI in January. He was the first director of NASA's Astrobiology Institute.

From 2002 to 2006, he directed NASA Ames, with management responsibility for 3,000 employees and an annual operating budget of $700 million. In leading the development of the NASA Research Park, he spearheaded partnerships between government, academia and industry, including an unprecedented research and development collaboration with Google.

In 2003, he served as NASA's sole representative on the board investigating the Columbia disaster and directed testing and analysis that definitively showed the cause of the space shuttle's loss. As NASA's "Mars czar," he restructured the Mars program in 2000 in the wake of the loss of the Mars Polar Lander and the Mars Climate Orbiter, which led to the success of Mars Odyssey and the rovers Spirit and Opportunity. He also managed the highly productive Lunar Prospector Mission, which orbited the moon for a year to map lunar resources, gravity and magnetic fields and which found evidence of water ice at the poles.

"We are thrilled to have internationally recognized space expert Scott Hubbard connected to the Stanford community and look forward to engaging with him as a mentor to students and a research colleague," said electrical engineering Professor Gregory Kovacs, who will collaborate with Hubbard on instrumentation for detecting life and for other biomedical applications as well as commercialization of space.

At Stanford, Hubbard, who has chaired a blue-ribbon task force on nanotechnology for the state of California, hopes to analyze the convergence of nanotechnology, biotechnology and information technology at the frontiers of research. He also aims to explore the emergence of the entrepreneurial space industry. Hubbard has run a high-tech company, served as a staff scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and written more than 50 scientific papers. He is a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, an elected member of the International Academy of Astronautics and a recipient of the Von Karman Medal in Astronautics.

Associate Professor Bruce Lusignan, on sabbatical this year at Portland State University, is delighted Hubbard has chosen Stanford. "Our E. 235 [Space Systems Engineering course] student teams have cooperated with his Mars Center at NASA Ames for years," Lusignan said. "They supported projects with visiting Russian engineers studying robotic and human Mars exploration missions."

He added: "Scott brings expertise and international reputation, which, combined with students and professors from engineering, science, medicine and international relations, can help build popular interest and further science, education and media support. Private initiatives to join the international efforts will be greatly enhanced."

Editor Note:

A photo of Hubbard is available on the web at



Dawn Levy, News Service: (650) 725-1944,


G. Scott Hubbard, Electrical Engineering: (650) 690-4518 (SETI Institute)

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