James B. Garvin
Lead NASA Mars and Moon Scientist
Lead Scientist, Mars and Lunar Exploration Programs
Office of Space Science
In his present position as Lead Scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program and the newly initiated lunar exploration initiative, Dr. Garvin is responsible for formulation of scientific requirements for the exploration of Mars and the Moon, and overall leadership of the scientific trajectory of the programs . He has served NASA in his present position since 2000 .
He began his NASA career in 1984 in the Geodynamics Branch of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland. He has served as Chief Scientist for the Shuttle Laser Altimeter experiment (SLA), which flew in Earth orbit twice, and as principal investigator on 12 airborne laser altimeter missions to such remote locales as Iceland and the Azores. He is a co-investigator on the Mars Orbital Laser Altimeter (MOLA) onboard NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft, which is operating in orbit at Mars, and one of the founding fathers of the original MOLA instrument. He was also a co-investigator on the NEAR Laser rangefinder experiment. In addition, he has served NASA as an original member of Sally Ride's Task group 1A (Leadership in the aftermath of the Challenger disaster) and more recently as chairperson of the NASA Next Decade Planning Team (Exploration). Most recently he was awarded NASA's Outstanding Leadership Medal for his work in developing the scientific strategy for NASA's Mars exploration activities .
He has also served as the Project Scientist for NASA's Earth System Science Pathfinder Program while at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. His research areas of expertise include geomorphology of Martian landscapes; impact cratering on Mars, Earth, and the Moon;; and remote sensing of oceanic islands (i.e, such as Iceland's Surtsey). He has published over 60 peer-reviewed research articles and thousands of extended abstracts. Most recently, he appeared on “ the Late Show with David Letterman ” as NASA's Mars expert (January 2004).
Jim received his Ph.D. at Brown University in 1984, with specialization in the geomorphology of lander sites on Mars and Venus and radar remote sensing. He also holds a Sc.B. in computer science from Brown University (1978) magna cum laude , an M.S. in computer science from Stanford University, and a Sc.M. in Geological Sciences from Brown (1981). While an undergraduate at Brown, Garvin was elected to Phi Beta Kappa , and he received the Sigma Xi award for Excellence in scientific research in 1982 while in graduate school. Most recently (May 2003), Garvin was honored by Brown University as its first Graduate School Commencement Speaker.
He lives with his wife Cindy, his son Zachary, daughter Danica, and a Bouvier des Flandres dog “Yogi” in Columbia, Maryland. He is passionate about Mars and dreams of wandering across the Mars-like vistas of Iceland with his family, in search of “Mars on Earth”, while listening to U2 music. He was born in a blizzard in Poughkeepsie, New York and enjoys ice hockey.