Maria T. Zuber is the E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics at MIT and Principal Investigator of NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission. Professor Zuber is the first woman to lead an MIT science department and the first to lead a NASA planetary mission. She has been involved in numerous spacecraft missions that have mapped the Moon, Mars, Mercury and several asteroids. Her awards include the MIT James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award, NASA’s Outstanding Scientific Achievement Medal, Distinguished Public Service Medal and Outstanding Public Leadership Medal, the GSA G.K. Gilbert Award and the AAS/Planetary Society Carl Sagan Memorial Award.
Professor Zuber’s research bridges planetary geophysics and the technology of space-based laser and radio systems. Since 1990, she has held leadership roles associated with scientific experiments or instrumentation on ten NASA missions; at present, she remains involved with seven of these missions. Zuber is Principal Investigator for NASA’s Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission, an effort to map the Moon’s gravitational field, begun in 2008.
She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and American Philosophical Society, and is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2004 Professor Zuber served on the Presidential Commission on the Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy. In 2002 Discover magazine named her one of the 50 most important women in science, and in 2008 she was named to the USNews/Harvard Kennedy School List of America’s Best Leaders.