NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, one of the nation’s preeminent research and development labs, has appointed Laurie Leshin as the first female director in its history. Leshin has also been appointed vice president of Caltech, the university that runs JPL.
Leshin is currently the president of the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, a private STEM-focused university located in Worcester, Massachusetts. Leshin was also WPI’s first female president when she assumed the role in 2014. She’ll assume the JPL director role on May 16, 2022.
Leshin is a renowned scientist whose work spans stints in both the private and public sector. She’s held senior positions at NASA and has been appointed to the White House twice: once in 2004, when she served on President George W. Bush’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy, and again in 2013 as part of President Barack Obama’s advisory board of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.
“I am both thrilled and humbled to be appointed the director of JPL,” Leshin said in a statement. “We have enormous opportunities ahead to leverage JPL’s global leadership in robotic space exploration to answer awe-inspiring scientific questions and improve life here on Earth.”