2022 NASA Exploration Science Awards

NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI) Awards recognize outstanding achievements in exploration science. Recipients have each made unique contributions to NASA’s human exploration efforts. SSERVI Award winners are nominated by their academic peers and are selected by a committee based at SSERVI’s central office. The awards were presented along with invited lectures from the recipients at the 2022 NASA Exploration Science Forum (NESF) on July 19–21.

“Please join me in congratulating all of the 2022 Award winners,” said Greg Schmidt, Director of SSERVI. “We look forward to future scientific discoveries from these individuals, as their outstanding research efforts have furthered NASA’s goals for human and robotic exploration of the Moon and other destinations in the solar system.”

Susan Mahan Niebur Early Career Award

The 2022 Susan Mahan Niebur Early Career Award is an annual award given to early-career scientists who have made significant contributions to the science or exploration communities. Recipients of the Susan M. Niebur Early Career Award are researchers who are no more than ten years from receiving their Ph.D., who have shown excellence in their field and demonstrated meaningful contributions to the science or exploration communities. This year the award is presented to Drs. Kelsey Young and Orenthal James “O.J.” Tucker.

Kelsey YoungKelsey Young is a Research Space Scientist at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center focused on the integration of science into human exploration and addressing major strategic knowledge gaps in preparing for human science on the Moon.

Dr. Young is a leader in developing Concepts of Operation for crews on the Moon and has participated in several operational field tests run by NASA, including as a crewmember and Science Team member for NASA’s Desert RATS, as the Science Operation Co-Lead for NEEMO, as a submersible pilot for NXT, and other analog missions that are maturing ways our astronauts will explore the lunar surface during ARTEMIS missions.

Dr. Young is a Theme Lead for two SSERVI teams, RISE2 and GEODES, where she is involved in testing handheld and field portable instruments and using geophysical instrumentation in human exploration-relevant analog environments. In addition, Dr. Young serves as one of the lead trainers for Earth and Planetary Science training for NASA Astronauts. She served on the 2020 Artemis III Science Definition Team, as part of the Organizing Committee for NASA’s Lunar Surface Science Workshops, as Human Exploration Chair of the LEAG Executive Committee, and as Session Chair at numerous scientific meetings (AGU, LPSC, GSA, NESF, etc.). She received her PhD and MS in Geological Sciences, from Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration, and a BS in Geological Sciences from the Department of Civil Engineering and Environmental Geosciences at the University of Notre Dame.

Within the first two years post-PhD, she won two awards as a PI with NASA’s competitive Planetary Science and Technology Through Analog Research (PSTAR) Program, and has received numerous others, including the 2020 NASA Early Career Achievement Medal, the Wiley-Blackwell Award, the LPI Career Development Award, the 2011 School of Earth and Space Exploration Merit Award, and a NASA Group Achievement Award for her work on Desert-RATS. As an early-career researcher she has an extensive list of publications. Dr. Young has focused her career on a single objective– enabling crewed science on the lunar surface– and the science and exploration communities have each benefitted from this. Young represents the very nexus of lunar science and exploration and is highly deserving of the 2022 Susan Niebur Award.

Orenthal James TuckerOrenthal James “O.J.” Tucker is a Research Scientist at NASA GSFC and NASA Postdoctoral Fellow. He earned his Ph.D. and his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Physics from Hampden-Sydney College, where he was on both the football team and honor court for math and physics and was active in the minority student union.

As a plasma physicist, Dr. Tucker develops and carries out molecular-level simulations to model gas flows on planetary bodies and to describe radiation effect in solids. His research interests are aimed at understanding how dynamics at the molecular level affects planets and planetary materials. Dr. Tucker is a leading expert on rarefied atmospheres and exospheres across the solar system. He has made significant contributions to exploration science– particularly through his work on the lunar hydrogen cycle and its response to magnetospheric shielding, and on transient atmospheres produced by lunar volcanism. His work has been critical to advancing scientific understanding of the lunar volatile system and provides testable hypotheses for several upcoming orbital and landed lunar missions. The breadth of Dr. Tucker’s work is unparalleled; he has simulated rarefied atmospheres on bodies ranging from Mercury and the Moon, to the moons of Jupiter and Saturn, Pluto and beyond!

In addition, Dr. Tucker has mentored many undergraduate and graduate students and is held in the highest esteem by a wide, international network of colleagues and collaborators. He is currently a Co-Investigator on the SSERVI LEADER team and a Co-Investigator for the PITMS mass spectrometer, a NASA-provided lunar payload. Dr. Tucker has also served in critical leadership and service roles; he is a member of the White House Scientific Integrity Task Force, served as a SOC member for the AAS-DPS, is one of the co-founders of the Planetary Scientists of Color group, and a mentor and role model for the dynamic Black in Astro community.

Dr. Tucker makes an effort above and beyond his own role as a civil servant to bring minority students into the field and these efforts have been inspirational to this community. Because of both his own unique scientific contributions and his constant work to incorporate minority students into his field, Dr. Tucker’s efforts exactly reflect Dr. Susan Niebur’s “untiring work at bringing people together and finding ways to help everyone live up to their potential.” Dr. O.J. Tucker is an exceptional scientist and incredible person and could not be more deserving of recognition.

Angioletta Coradini Mid-Career Award

The SSERVI Angioletta Coradini Mid-Career Award is given annually to a mid-career scientist for broad, lasting accomplishments related to SSERVI fields of interest. Angioletta Coradini (1946-2011) was an Italian planetary scientist who inspired astronomers and planetary scientists around the world. The 2022 Angioletta Coradini Mid-Career Award is given to Dr. Carolyn van der Bogert.

Carolyn van der BogertCarolyn H. van der Bogert has been a Research Scientist in the Institute for Planetology at the University of Münster, Germany since 2006, and prior to that, she was a Research Scientist with the Gemological Institute of America. She is a Science Team Associate on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera, where she provides Mission support, scientific investigations of geological studies of the lunar surface, and is preparing for future lunar missions. She has been involved with PLANMAP, an EU Planetary Mapping project, and is preparing for a commercial ISRU demonstration mission.

Dr. van der Bogert grew up on a small farm in the mountains of North Carolina, where she was inspired to study space science after attending a public talk with her father about the Voyager 2 mission and its impressive images of Uranus’s moon Miranda.

She earned both Doctor of Philosophy and Master of Science at Brown University’s Department of Geological Sciences and a Bachelor of Arts in Geology from Boston University’s Planetary & Space Sciences program. She was a NASA Graduate Student Research Program Fellow, a NASA-Rhode Island Space Grant Graduate Student Fellow, and received the Brown University Charles Wilson Brown Dissertation Fellowship and Amelia Earhart Fellowship. She has extensively published over her career and received numerous poster awards, the Stephen E. Dwornik Planetary Geoscience Student Paper Award, and the Boston University Collegiate Excellence Award in Earth Sciences.

Michael J. Wargo Exploration Science Award

The Michael J. Wargo Exploration Science Award is an annual award given to a scientist or engineer who has significantly contributed to the integration of exploration and planetary science throughout their career. The 2022 Michael J. Wargo Exploration Science Award is given to Dr. Ben Bussey.

Ben BusseyBen Bussey is a physicist and planetary scientist researching the Moon’s lunar poles for the space science and exploration communities. He has led national and international research teams, including two successful NASA virtual institute teams, one with the Lunar Science Institute and one with SSERVI. He was an initial member of the Exploration Science Strategy and Integration Office (ESSIO) within NASA’s Science Mission Directorate which coordinates SMD’s lunar activities; the Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration (DAAX), running ESSIO; and the Chief Exploration Scientist for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD).

Dr. Bussey was the principal investigator (PI) of the Mini-RF radar orbiting the Moon on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and deputy PI for the sister instrument that flew on India’s Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter. He has an extensive variety of mission experience, including LCROSS, AlHAT, RLEP 2, NEAR, Mars Express, Smart-1, and the Mercury and Venus sample return missions. He is currently a Co-investigator on the ShadowCam instrument, scheduled to fly to the Moon next year on Korea’s KPLO spacecraft, and the lead of APL’s Lunar Surface Innovation Initiative activities for NASA’s STMD.
He has been a key member of several NASA strategy groups and workshops, including the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group, and has served on several NASA review panels (both research and mission-related). He has conducted geologic fieldwork in volcanic terrains and was selected twice for NSF/NASA Antarctic Search for Meteorites expeditions. Ben has worked in a variety of roles training and developing Ph.D. scientists conducting planetary surface and atmospheric research, and can be credited with hiring several young-career scientists who have become leaders in their fields.

Dr. Bussey earned his B.A. in Physics from Wadham College, Oxford University, and his Ph.D. in Astronomy from the University College London. His training as a scientist, coupled with his mission experience, has given him an admirable understanding of the engineering associated with space missions. He has won several NASA Group Achievement Awards: LRO (2011); Mini-RF (2008); Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous Shoemaker Mission (2002); the JHU/APL publication award for an outstanding professional book (2004).

Eugene Shoemaker Distinguished Scientist Medal

The Eugene Shoemaker Distinguished Scientist Medal, named after American geologist and one of the founders of planetary science, Eugene Shoemaker (1928-1997), is a lifetime achievement award given to a scientist who has significantly contributed to our understanding the Moon and other small bodies in our solar system. The 2022 Eugene Shoemaker Distinguished Scientist Medal is awarded to Lisa Gaddis for her significant scientific contributions throughout the course of her career.

Lisa GaddisAs director of the Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), Dr. Lisa Gaddis is providing scientific leadership and management of the research and operations of LPI in support of NASA’s strategic goals in planetary science and solar system exploration. Prior to her appointment to USRA/LPI, Dr. Gaddis was at the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Astrogeology Science Center in Flagstaff, Arizona, where she worked since 1990 as a scientist, administrator, and supervisor.

Dr. Gaddis holds a BA from Vassar College, an MS from Brown University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Hawaii. She brings broad scientific expertise spanning geology and geophysics, remote sensing, planetary science, space mission planning and operations, cartography, and data archiving. Her research interests include analyzing the composition, physical properties, and geologic history of planetary surfaces in our solar system, using remote sensing data at a variety of wavelengths. She has served as PI on more than 35 NASA projects, including the NASA Planetary Data System Cartography and Imaging Sciences Node from 2004 to 2020. Lisa also served as Chief Scientist for the USGS Astrogeology Program, serving as PI of the NASA Planetary Cartography Research Program from 2003 to 2007. Her NASA flight mission experience includes science and operations roles on the Mars Exploration Rovers (MER) and a Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) Participating Scientist.

A prolific author, she has published numerous papers in various scientific journals, several book chapters, and has served on several committees and advisory groups for NASA on national and international space science and exploration plans. She is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and a recipient of the U.S. Department of the Interior Honor Award for Meritorious Service.