USRA Names Louise M. Prockter Director of the Lunar and Planetary Institute

July 19, 2016

Dr. Louise M. Prockter

The Universities Space Research Association (USRA) announced today the appointment of Dr. Louise M. Prockter as Director of the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI) in Houston, Texas, effective September 6, 2016. Prockter will be the first woman to serve as LPI Director.

Since 1969, USRA has managed the LPI — a premier research organization that serves NASA and the planetary science community and conducts planetary science research through a core of staff scientists, visiting researchers, and post-doctoral fellows.

As Director, Prockter will assume the leadership and management of the LPI. She will work with NASA to develop a forward-looking vision for the Institute in its service to the community and in supporting NASA’s strategic goals in planetary science and solar system exploration.

“We are delighted to welcome Louise to USRA. Her technical expertise and proven track record in management make her the ideal candidate to lead LPI into the future,” says Dr. Jeffrey Isaacson, President and CEO of USRA. “Above all, she is committed to driving the Institute forward and extending its 47-year history of preeminent service to NASA and the lunar and planetary science community.”

Prockter has an internationally recognized record in planetary science research and has been a leader in NASA mission science development, operations, and management. Notable are her leadership roles at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) Science Branch Space Sector and at the Planetary Exploration Group, where she was responsible for overseeing and developing a group of world-class planetary scientists, staffing space missions, budget and facilities management, and strategic planning. Her mission experience includes leadership roles on NASA’s Europa Multiple FlyBy flagship mission, and the MESSENGER Discovery Mission as well as team affiliate roles on the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous and the Galileo Extended Mission (GEM). Prockter has served on numerous panels for the National Academy of Sciences and NASA, including the Space Studies Board and the Planetary Decadal Survey for 2013–2022, “Vision and Voyages.”

“I am excited to have Louise join the USRA science leadership team,” says Dr. Nicholas White, Senior Vice President for Science at USRA. “Louise will bring a new perspective to lead the LPI through its next phase in supporting NASA’s mission to explore the solar system.”

“With Louise at the helm, I am confident that the Institute will attain the next level in service to NASA and the planetary community,” says Dr. Stephen Mackwell, outgoing LPI Director.

Prockter holds Ph.D. and M.S. degrees in Planetary Geology from Brown University. She received her undergraduate degree in Geophysics from Lancaster University, UK. Prockter is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and has authored or co-authored numerous papers in a number of diverse fields of research.

She succeeds Mackwell, who was named as the USRA Corporate Director of Science Programs earlier this year. Mackwell has led the LPI since 2002, and has received numerous accolades for his service, including being honored by the International Astronomical Union as a “valued steward of the science community” with the naming of main-belt asteroid 5292 Mackwell.


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Last updated July 19, 2016