Maria Zuber Profile

  • A scientific trailblazer, Professor Zuber was the first woman to lead a NASA planetary expedition and the first female head of a scientific department at MIT.

  • As Vice President for Research and E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics at MIT, Zuber balances massive bureaucratic responsibilities at one of the world’s top research institutions with the consistent production of groundbreaking research in her own area of expertise.

  • A leader in 10 NASA missions and counting, Zuber has combined her unrivaled knowledge of planetary science with the latest technology to map out the surfaces and gravity of rocky bodies throughout the solar system.
  • One of the most in-demand speakers in planetary science, Maria Zuber is the Vice President for Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. She is the first woman to lead a science department at MIT, as well as the first woman to lead a NASA mission.

    To date she has a leading role in ten NASA planetary missions, mapping the surfaces of Mars, the Moon, Mercury, and numerous asteroids. A true trailblazer, Professor Zuber combines her expertise in planetary geophysics with state-of-the-art space laser technology and radio systems. Her spacecrafts, Ebb and Flow, have allowed scientists to not only better understand the surface of Earth’s moon but to explore the unknown environment below the moon’s crust.

    Professor Zuber has been named “one of the 50 most important women in science” by Discovery magazine. She has served as Chair of the National Science Board and on the Presidential Commission on the Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy.

    From 1998 onwards, Professor Zuber has been the E.A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics at MIT’s Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences. She oversees the MIT Lincoln Laboratory and the Laboratory for Terrestrial Physics at the NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center in addition to her massive bureaucratic responsibilities as MIT’s Vice President for Research.

    • View Extended/Alternate Bio

      Maria Zuber is the E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics and Vice President for Research at MIT, where she is responsible for research administration and policy. She oversees MIT Lincoln Laboratory and more than a dozen interdisciplinary research laboratories and centers, including the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, MIT Energy Initiative, MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative, Plasma Science and Fusion Center, Research Laboratory of Electronics, Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, and Haystack Observatory. Vice President Zuber is also responsible for intellectual property and research integrity and compliance, as well as research relationships with the federal government.

      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 nine NASA missions, most notably serving as Principal Investigator of the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory or GRAIL mission.

      Vice President Zuber has won numerous awards including the MIT James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award, the highest honor the MIT faculty bestows to one of its own. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and American Philosophical Society, and is a fellow for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Geological Society and the American Geophysical Union.

      Vice President Zuber is the first woman to lead a science department at MIT and the first to lead a NASA planetary mission. In 2004 she 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. In 2013 President Obama appointed her to the National Science Board, and in 2016 she was elected Board Chair.

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    Maria Zuber's Speech Descriptions

    A unique speaker in the science community, Professor Maria Zuber weaves information that you need to know into a beautiful and gripping narrative. An incredibly accomplished scientist, Zuber shares her discoveries about Mars, the Moon, Mercury, and neighboring asteroids, and what they tell us about the history, composition, and future of our own planet Earth.

    Suggested Speaking Topics:

  • Human Expedition to Mars
  • Space Science and Exploration
  • Building a Career in Science as a Woman
  • Taking Action on Climate Change
  • AI and the Future of Work

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