Leading NASA’s Science Mission Directorate – DR THOMAS ZURBUCHEN

How a child looking up to the stars in Switzerland became a NASA science leader

In this interview we go onsite at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. for an in-depth conversation with Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen. As NASA’s Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, Zurbuchen is tasked with helping us answer some of humanity’s biggest questions: Where did we come from? Are we alone? How does the universe work? Dr. Zurbuchen is well versed in the practice of asking difficult questions that help us seek interconnected answers leading to real world impacts.

Zurbuchen is an award-winning astrophysicist, with honors including receiving the National Science and Technology Council Presidential Early Career for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) Award in 2004 and three NASA Group Achievement awards.

Since day one at NASA’s Headquarters in Washington, DC, Zurbuchen has focused on inspiring learners of all ages and fostering an inclusive team of science leaders. Encouraging people to dive deeper and earn the future by striving for excellence today are key factors to the integrated approach he has adopted. Zurbuchen has created an environment where teams work together to achieve ambitious goals, excel well beyond the intended result and have the resources and support to achieve things they never thought were possible.

During his career, Zurbuchen has authored or coauthored more than 200 articles in refereed journals in solar and heliospheric phenomena. He has also been involved with several NASA science missions involving Mercury, the Sun and more. His experience here has driven his passion of cultivating leaders and highlighting talent throughout the agency. He has also been an advocate of sharing NASA’s messages on social media and can be found on Twitter at the handle @Dr_ThomasZ.

Special thanks to photographer Francis Murphy (https://fxmphotography.com) for sharing his space journey in this episode!

Interview with Dr. Zurbuchen recorded March 25, 2019 at NASA Headquarters in Washington D.C.

Portrait of Thomas Zurbuchen taken on Monday, October 17, 2016 at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Photo Credit: (NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

Additional video footage and NASA animations provided by:
NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
NASA’s Scientific Visualization Studio

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