NASA Institute Honors LPI’s Julie Stopar for Early-Career Achievements

May 19, 2023

Julie Stopar, Senior Staff Scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), is one of two winners of a NASA award given annually to early-career scientists who have made significant contributions to the science or exploration communities.

Stopar is a recipient of the Susan M. Niebur Early Career Award presented by NASA's Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI). The award is given to researchers who are no more than ten years from receiving their terminal degree, who have shown excellence in their field, and who have demonstrated meaningful contributions to the science or exploration communities.

"We're so pleased to see this well-deserved honor bestowed upon our friend and colleague, Julie Stopar!" exclaims LPI Director Lisa Gaddis. "Julie has been working at the forefront of lunar science and exploration for many years, and her work directly contributes to the future of NASA in space." Gaddis expressed her excitement to see what the future holds as Stopar continues demonstrating excellence in her field.

Dr. Julie Stopar

Dr. Julie Stopar, LPI Senior Staff Scientist. Credit: Lunar and Planetary Institute.

Stopar leads research on lunar geology and surface evolution. She researches lunar volcanic deposits, impact melt deposits, impact craters, and regolith evolution. Other research interests include low-temperature interactions between minerals and liquid water throughout the solar system.

Stopar has been part of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter team since 2007, before launch. She is a co-investigator for the LRO Camera team and a Mini-RF team member. She is active in several mission concepts for lunar exploration, having contributed to designs for a long-range rover, a robotic sample return, and a SmallSat lander.

Stopar is a valued member of three SSERVI teams — the Center for Lunar Science and Exploration (CLSE), the Interdisciplinary Consortium for Evaluating Volatile Origins (ICE Five-O), and the recently selected Center for Advanced Sample Analysis of Astromaterials from the Moon and Beyond (CASA Moon).

Stopar exemplifies a commitment to service to the planetary science community through participation in several Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG) action teams that provided a roadmap for science-driven exploration of the Moon. She co-developed the LPI Lunar South Pole Atlas, consisting of maps, images, and illustrations of the south polar region. She co-organized and led the LPI-LEAG 2017 Back to the Moon workshop, which helped provide a framework for upcoming lunar exploration. At the LPI, Stopar was the science lead for LPI's Regional Planetary Image Facility for five years. Stopar is dedicated to training future scientists as part of the coordination team for the LPI Summer Intern Program in Planetary Science and as supervisor of undergraduate research projects. She is also the current co-chair of LPI's Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility (IDEA) Advisory Committee.

The prize is presented, along with an invited lecture, at the annual NASA Exploration Science Forum at The Hotel, University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland, from July 18–21, 2023.

Read the official NASA SSERVI announcement: 2023 NASA Exploration Science Awards

For more information about the award and past winners, visit Susan Mahan Niebur Award.

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