Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences

Distinguished Lecture Series: Dr. Maria T. Zuber

Distinguished Lecture Series: Dr. Maria T. Zuber

Title: “The Crust of the Moon and Implications for Early Planetary Evolution”

Abstract: Thanks to the low-orbiting Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) spacecraft, the structure of the lunar crust has been mapped at higher resolution than any planet beyond Earth. Because the Moon has retained its primordial crust, it preserves the record of tectonics, volcanism and impact bombardment dating from shortly after the time of crustal formation. This is the time that life initially emerged on Earth, where the earliest crustal record is very poorly maintained. This presentation will provide an integrated view of lunar crustal structure and make inferences about the implications for the early evolution of other terrestrial planets.

Maria Zuber is the E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics and Vice President for Research at MIT, where she is responsible for research administration and policy.

She oversees MIT Lincoln Laboratory and more than a dozen interdisciplinary research laboratories and centers, including the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research, the MIT Energy and Environmental Solutions Initiatives, the Plasma Science and Fusion Center, the Research Laboratory of Electronics, the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, and Haystack Observatory. Vice President Zuber is also responsible for intellectual property and research integrity and compliance, as well as research relationships with the federal government.

Zuber’s research bridges planetary geophysics and the technology of space‐based laser and radio systems. Since 1990, she has held leadership roles associated with scientificexperiments or instrumentation on ten NASA missions, most notably serving as Principal Investigator of the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission.

Zuber holds a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania and an Sc.M. and Ph.D. from Brown. She has won numerous awards including the MIT James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award, the highest honor the MIT faculty bestows to one of its own. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and is a fellow for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association forthe Advancement of Science, the Geological Society and the American Geophysical Union.

Vice President Zuber is the first woman to lead a science department at MIT and the first to lead a NASA planetary mission. In 2004, she served on the Presidential Commission on the Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy. In 2002 Discover magazine named her one of the 50 most important women in science and, in 2008, she was named to the USNews/Harvard Kennedy School List of America’s BestLeaders. In 2013, President Obama appointed her to the National Science Board, and in 2016 she was elected Board Chair, a position she held until 2018.


Thursday, November 1, 2018


CIRES Auditorium, Room 338

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