Maria Zuber

MIT Presidential Advisor for Science and Technology Policy
E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics

Contact Info:

Office Phone






Alma Pellecer 617.324.1960

Leader in geophysics known for pioneering missions to map the Moon, Mars, Mercury, and asteroids using gravity and laser altimetry.

Maria Zuber’s research focuses on the structure and tectonics of solid solar system objects. She specializes in using gravity and laser altimetry measurements to determine interior structure and evolution and has been involved in more than half a dozen NASA planetary missions aimed at mapping the Moon, Mars, Mercury, as well as several asteroids. She was principal investigator for the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) and as such became the first woman to lead a NASA spacecraft mission.

Zuber received her BA in astronomy and geology from the University of Pennsylvania. She also earned Sc.M. and PhD degrees, both in geophysics, from Brown University. Zuber later worked at Johns Hopkins University and served as a research scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. She joined the faculty of MIT in 1995 where, as chair of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences from 2003 to 2012, she became the first woman to lead a science department at MIT. She currently serves as MIT’s Vice President for Research.

Key Awards & Honors

  • 2019 • Gerard P. Kuiper Prize, Division for Planetary Sciences, American Astronomical Society
  • 2017 • Eugene Shoemaker Distinguished Scientist Medal, NASA Solar System Exploration Virtual Institute
  • 2013 • MIT James R. Killian, Jr. Faculty Achievement Award
  • 2012 • Harry H. Hess Medal, American Geophysical Union
  • 2012 • NASA Outstanding Public Leadership Medal