The Universities Space Research Association Names Louise M. Prockter Director of the Lunar and Planetary Institute
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. Dr. Prockter will be the first woman to serve as Director of LPI.
Since 1969, USRA has managed the Lunar and Planetary Institute—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, Dr. Prockter will assume the leadership and management of the Institute. 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."
Dr. 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). Dr. 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, past director of the Lunar and Planetary Institute.
Dr. Prockter holds a Ph.D. in Planetary Geology and a M.S. degree also in Planetary Geology from Brown University. She received her undergraduate degree in Geophysics from Lancaster University, U.K. Dr. Prockter is a Fellow of the Geological Society of America and has authored or co-authored numerous papers in diverse areas.
She follows Dr. Mackwell who was named USRA Corporate Director, Science Programs, earlier this year. Dr. Mackwell led the Lunar and Planetary Institute from 2002-2016 and 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."
Universities Space Research Association is an independent, nonprofit research corporation where the combined efforts of in-house talent and university-based expertise merge to advance space science and technology. USRA works across disciplines including biomedicine, planetary science, astrophysics, and engineering and integrates those competencies into applications ranging from fundamental research to facility management and operations. USRA engages the creativity and authoritative expertise of the research community to develop and deliver sophisticated, forward-looking solutions to Federal agencies and other government sponsors.
The Lunar and Planetary Institute, a division of the Universities Space Research Association, was established during the Apollo missions to foster international collaboration and to serve as a repository for information gathered during the early years of the space program. Today, the LPI is an intellectual leader in lunar and planetary science. The Institute serves as a scientific forum attracting world-class visiting scientists, postdoctoral fellows, students, and resident experts; supports and serves the research community through newsletters, meetings, and other activities; collects and disseminates planetary data while facilitating the community's access to NASA science; and engages and excites, and educates the public about space science and invests in the development of future generations of explorers. The research carried out at LPI supports NASA's efforts to explore the solar system.