Dr. Patrick J. McGovern
Dr. Patrick J. McGovern

Senior Staff Scientist

[email protected]
  |   281-486-2187


  • S. B., Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1986
  • Graduate work, Department of Earth and Space Sciences, UCLA, 1987–1988
  • Ph. D., Geophysics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1996.  Thesis title: "Studies of Large Volcanoes on the Terrestrial Planets: Implications for Stress State, Tectonics, Structural Evolution, and Moat Filling"


  • Research Assistant, Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, September 1988-May 1996
  • Postdoctoral Associate, Department of Terrestrial Magnetism, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, DC, June 1996-October 1999
  • Staff Scientist, Lunar and Planetary Institute (LPI), Houston, TX, November 1999–present (current rank: Senior Staff Scientist)


  • Adjunct Senior Research Scientist, LDEO, Columbia University, 2015–present
  • Adjunct Faculty, Dept. of Earth Science, Rice University, 2004–present
  • Stephen E. Dwornik Student Paper Award (Best Poster Presentation), LPSC Conference, 1993
  • Luis De Florez Award, Aeronautics and Astronautics, MIT, 1986


  • Co-Chair, Joint NASA/ESA Venus Science Coordination Group (VeSCoor), 2023-2025
  • Co-convener of Scientific Symposium “Volcanotectonic Processes and Landforms Across the Solar System” at the IAVCEI 2023 Scientific Assembly
  • NASA Venus Exploration Analysis Group (VEXAG) Steering Committee, July 2018-June 2022
  • Co-convener of Special Session “Planetary Volcanology” at the 2017 IAVCEI Scientific Assembly
  • Co-convener of Special Session “Volcanism Associated with Impact Basins in the Solar System” at the 2011 AGU Fall Meeting
  • Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) Program Committees, 2000-2001, 2008-2009, 2011
  • Numerous NASA grant program review panels: PIDDP, PG&G, MDAP, MFRP, OPRP, SSW, PDART




  • New Horizons Team Meeting 2023, Reconstructing Paleo-Pluto, with Implications for Present-day Topography and Tectonics.
  • Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory 2018, MGG/SGT Seminar: “Pluto and Charon: New Horizons for tectonics, impact activity, and (cryo)volcanism on icy bodies in the far reaches of the Solar System.”
  • Earth-Life Science Institute (ELSI), Tokyo Institute of Technology, 2016, 4th ELSI International Symposium on Three Experiments in Biological Origins: Early Earth, Venus, and Mars: “The Martian Crustal Dichotomy: an Ancient and Fundamental Feature”
  • Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, 2015, Division of Seismology, Geology, and Tectonophysics, Geodynamics Seminar: “Olympus Mons, Mars: The Ups and Downs of the Tallest Volcano”
  • AGU Joint Assembly 2015, Special Session on Surface Expressions of Volcanism and Associated Tectonism on Venus and Implications for Interior Dynamics: “Lithospheric Flexure, Stress, and Volcanic Edifice Morphology: A Connection for a Subset of Coronae on Venus?”


  • New Frontiers Data Analysis Program (NFDAP): Principal Investigator 2018-2021. Current grant: Structural evolution of Pluto and Charon: Insights from an integrated program of New Horizons imaging data analysis and numerical modeling of lithospheric dynamics.
  • Solar System Workings Program (SSW): Principal Investigator, 2018-2020. Current grant: Breaking the Barriers: Time-dependent, stress-controlled growth of large volcanoes on Venus and implications for the mechanics of magma ascent, storage, and emplacement.
  • GRAIL Guest Scientist, 2012-2016
  • Lunar Advanced Science and Exploration Research Program (LASER) Principal Investigator, 2013–2016. Current grant: “Volcanic and thermal evolution of the Moon: constraints from advanced numerical modeling and integrated analysis of remotely sensed datasets”
  • Outer Planets Research Program (OPR) Principal Investigator, 2012–2016. Current grant: Copious volcanism on a compression-dominated planet? Insights into magma ascent and mountain building on Io from advanced numerical modeling
  • Planetary Geology and Geophysics Program (PG&G) Principal Investigator, 2005–2016. Current grant: Growth and Evolution of Large Volcanoes on Venus: Insights from Advanced Numerical Modeling of Lithospheric Response to Volcanic Loading
  • NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI) Co-Investigator, 2009–2013. “Impact Processes in the Origin Evolution of the Moon: New Sample-driven Perspectives”
  • Mars Data Analysis Program (MDAP) Principal Investigator, 2002–2013. Most recent grant: Structural Characterization and Evolution of Large Volcanoes on Mars with Insights from Numerical Simulations
  • Mars Global Surveyor, MOLA altimeter team: contributed to 8 team papers (3 as lead author)
  • Magellan (Venus): analyzed radar image, topography, and gravity data, 2 papers as lead author
  Return to profile page

Get the solar system in your inbox.

Sign up for LPI's email newsletters