Ellen Stofan becomes Director of the National Air and Space Museum

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  • Ellen Stofan, formerly the Consulting Senior Scientist at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, becomes Director of the National Air and Space Museum. She replaces Chris Browne, who has served as Interim Director since General Jack Dailey's retirement in January 2018.
  • From 2013 to 2016, Ellen was the Chief Scientist at NASA, serving as the principal advisor to former Administrator Charles Bolden on NASA's strategic planning and programs. She helped guide the development of a long-range plan to get humans to Mars, and worked on strategies for NASA to support commercial activity in low Earth orbit as it transitions from the International Space Station to sending humans to the moon and Mars in the mid-2020s. She supported NASA's overall science programs in heliophysics, Earth science, planetary science, and astrophysics. She also worked with President Barack Obama's Science Advisor and the National Science and Technology Council on science policy. Before joining NASA, Ellen was Vice President and Senior Scientist at Proxemy Research (2000 to 2013), a consulting firm in the Washington area specializing in planetary research.
  • While finishing her doctoral degree, Ellen joined the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) as a post-doctoral fellow and became the Deputy Project Scientist for the Magellan Mission to Venus. In 1994, she became JPL's Chief Scientist for the New Millennium Program where she managed a team of about 100 scientists working on new technologies. The following year, Ellen moved to London while continuing to work at JPL and was, and continues to be, an honorary professor at University College London, where she conducted her own research and advised doctoral students. She returned to the U.S. in 2000. Ellen currently serves as co-chair of the World Economic Forum's Council on the Future of Space Technologies. She has published extensively and received many awards and honors, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. She was named one of "CNN's Extraordinary People of 2014." She is co-author of the books Planetology: Unlocking the Secrets of the Solar System and Next Earth: What Our World Can Teach Us About Other Planets, both published by National Geographic.


  • Stofan, Ellen Renee 1961-
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • National Air and Space Museum


Chronology of Smithsonian History


SI Email Announcements. "Message from the Secretary: Ellen Stofan Named the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the National Air and Space Museum". Email, April 5, 2018

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, SW, Washington, D.C. 20024-2520, SIHistory@si.edu


April 5, 2018


  • Women
  • Appointments
  • Museums
  • Women Scientists
  • Museum directors


Washington (D.C.)

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