- Space Exploration Initiative
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 ScM 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 Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences between 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.