University of Colorado at Boulder

Colloquia Event

Friday February 01, 2013. 03:30 pm. GUGG 205

From the Terrestrial to the Celestial: My Perspectives and Experiences as NASA Chief Scientist

Waleed Abdalati

Professor of Geography, CU-Boulder ; Director of CIRES

For decades, NASA has been an iconic inspiration to the nation and the world, exploring our planet, the space environment, the solar system, and the universe. Success in these endeavors has been built on a foundation of science, technology and engineering that is producing such remarkable achievements as: landing a one-ton rover on the surface of Mars, developing a telescope that will peer 13.5 billion years into the past, and most importantly, providing comprehensive insights into the behavior and evolution of planet Earth. Enabling these capabilities and the associated research, requires much more than technical and scientific advances, however. It involves a complex balancing of priorities and resources, as well as alignment among a diverse group of passionate stakeholders – all against a backdrop of political and policy turmoil. As chief scientist, it was my responsibility to help shape NASA’s direction, and work to achieve alignment among the interests and objectives of the scientific community, the White House, Congress and others. In this talk, I will discuss some of these challenges and the associated rewards as well as the role science plays at NASA, and the role NASA science plays in the broader national framework.

Geography colloquium series was made possible by the generous support from The Beirne Carter Foundation.