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Laurie Leshin

Director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab

Director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab

Travels From Travels From:
Pasadena, CA, USA
Speaking Fee Speaking Fee:

Laurie Leshin Biography

Laurie Leshin is an American scientist and academic administrator serving as the 10th Director of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory and as a vice-president of the California Institute of Technology. Leshin's research has focused on geochemistry and space science. Leshin previously served as the 16th president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

In 2005, she became director of science and exploration at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and in 2008, she was promoted to Goddard’s deputy director for science and technology, where she and colleagues were responsible for the strategy, planning, and implementation of more than 50 Earth and space flight projects. In 2010, Leshin assumed the role of deputy associate administrator of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, where her work involved the oversight of the future human spaceflight program, including efforts to establish commercial crew capabilities and elements of what is now the Artemis program. In that role, Leshin also worked to catalyze worldwide space exploration by engaging with international space organizations and corporations, and through developing new technologies and robotic missions to create new possibilities for humans to travel to destinations deeper in the solar system. Leshin left NASA in 2011 to join Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as dean of the School of Science.

At WPI, Leshin focused on expanding research, WPI’s signature Global Projects Program, and ways to address gender disparity in STEM. In addition, during her presidential tenure, new academic and collaboration spaces were developed on the WPI campus, notably a 40,000-square-foot Innovation Studio, with flexible, creative space for active learning classrooms, and the newly opened Unity Hall, a 100,000-square-foot academic building focused on robotics engineering, data science, cybersecurity, learning sciences and technology, and other emerging interdisciplinary programs. WPI is now among STEM institutions with the highest percentage of female undergraduate students and is recognized for its balance of excellence in teaching and groundbreaking research.

Alongside her administrative career, Leshin has continued her scientific endeavors, which are focused on deciphering the record of water on objects in our solar system. For example, she served as a member of the Mars Science Laboratory science team that analyzed data collected by the Curiosity rover to find evidence of water on the surface of Mars. She has also been involved in planning and advocating for Mars Sample Return missions for more than two decades.

Raised in Arizona, Leshin earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Arizona State University (ASU), followed by master’s and doctoral degrees in geochemistry from Caltech. After a postdoctoral fellowship at UCLA, she served as a professor of geological sciences at ASU and director of its Center for Meteorite Studies. Before leaving ASU for NASA, she led the formation of ASU’s pathbreaking School of Earth and Space Exploration.

Leshin is a recipient of NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal and Distinguished Public Service Medal, and of the Meteoritical Society’s Nier Prize, awarded for outstanding research in meteoritics or planetary science by a scientist under the age of 35. The International Astronomical Union recognized her contributions to planetary science with the naming of asteroid 4922 Leshin.

In 2004, Leshin served on President George W. Bush’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy, a nine-member commission charged with advising the president on the execution of his new Vision for Space Exploration. In 2013, President Barack Obama appointed Leshin to the advisory board of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. Since 2016, she has co-chaired the National Academies Government-University-Industry Research Roundtable.

In 2021, Leshin received Caltech’s Distinguished Alumni Award, which is bestowed annually by the Institute in recognition of personal and professional accomplishments that have made a noteworthy impact in a field, community, or society more broadly.

Laurie Leshin Videos

  • Meet NASA’s First Female Director at JPL, Dr. Laurie Leshin
    In honor of Women’s History Month, we shine a light on fierce women making a difference in the world around us. Meet NASA’s first female director...
  • 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award - In Conversation with Laurie Leshin
    In Conversation with Laurie Leshin (MS '89, PhD '95), 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award Recipient Join 2021 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient...

FAQs on booking Laurie Leshin

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  • What are the speaker fees for Laurie Leshin

    Speaking fees for Laurie Leshin, or any other speakers and celebrities, are determined based on a number of factors and may change without notice. The estimated fees to book Laurie Leshin are for live events and for virtual events. For the most current speaking fee to hire Laurie Leshin, click the Check Availability button above and complete the form on this page, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536 to speak directly with an experienced booking agent.
  • What topics does Laurie Leshin speak about?

    Laurie Leshin is a keynote speaker and industry expert whose speaking topics include Education, Empowerment, Influential Women, Leadership Speakers, Personal Growth, Science and Technology, STEM, Technology Speakers, Women's Issues.
  • Where does Laurie Leshin travel from?

    Laurie Leshin generally travels from Pasadena, CA, USA, but can be booked for private corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. For more details, please contact an AAE Booking agent.
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    AAE Speakers Bureau has successfully booked keynote speakers like Laurie Leshin for clients worldwide since 2002. As a full-service speaker booking agency, we have access to virtually any speaker or celebrity in the world. Our agents are happy and able to submit an offer to the speaker or celebrity of your choice, letting you benefit from our reputation and long-standing relationships in the industry. Please click the Check Availability button above and complete the form on this page including the details of your event, or call our office at 1.800.698.2536, and one of our agents will assist you to book Laurie Leshin for your next private or corporate function.
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    AAE Speakers Bureau is a full-service speaker booking agency, meaning we can completely manage the speaker’s or celebrity’s engagement with your organization from the time of booking your speaker through the event’s completion. We provide all of the services you need to host Laurie Leshin or any other speaker of your choice, including offer negotiation, contractual assistance, accounting and billing, and event speaker travel and logistics services. When you book a speaker with us, we manage the process of hosting a speaker for you as an extension of your team. Our goal is to give our clients peace of mind and a best-in-class service experience when booking a speaker with us.
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Laurie Leshin is a keynote speaker and industry expert who speaks on a wide range of topics . The estimated speaking fee range to book Laurie Leshin for your event is available upon request. Laurie Leshin generally travels from Pasadena, CA, USA and can be booked for (private) corporate events, personal appearances, keynote speeches, or other performances. Similar motivational celebrity speakers are Katie King, Alyssa Carson, Emily Calandrelli, Alena Analeigh and Kim Ellis Hayes. Contact All American Speakers for ratings, reviews, videos and information on scheduling Laurie Leshin for an upcoming live or virtual event.

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