Maria T. Zuber, the E.A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics, will take over as head of the Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS) on July 1.
"Both [Provost] Bob Brown and I are confident that Maria will make an outstanding head of EAPS and we look forward to working with her over the next five years," said Robert J. Silbey, dean of the School of Science.
Zuber, a University of Pennsylvania graduate who earned the Ph.D. in geophysics from Brown University in 1986, studies the structure and evolution of the terrestrial planets. She has been an innovator in the application of spacecraft laser ranging and radio tracking systems to map the topography and gravity fields of the planets.
Zuber has led or co-led spacecraft instrument investigations that have flown to the Moon, Mars and an asteroid, and is involved in missions under development that will orbit Mars, Mercury, and the asteroids Ceres and Vesta. The topographic map of Mars produced by her laser altimeter on the Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft is the most accurate topography model for any planet, including Earth.
"It's a thrilling time for Earth and space sciences because of the emerging new directions, and I look forward to working with our faculty to shape the future of the field," said Zuber, who joined the MIT faculty in 1995.
Ronald G. Prinn, the TEPCO Professor of Atmospheric Science in EAPS, is stepping down as department head after five years, during which he oversaw the appointment of eight new faculty members. He will continue as director of the Center for Global Change Science and the Joint Program on Science and Policy of Global Change.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 12, 2003.