Dr. Joan Schmelz

Dr. Joan Schmelz

Dr. Joan Schmelz is the director of the Science and Technology Institute and the NASA Postdoctoral Program at Universities Space Research Association (USRA). She was the Associate Director for Science and Public Outreach at SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (2018-19), and the deputy director of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico (2015-18). She was a program officer for the National Science Foundation's Division of Astronomical Sciences (2013-15) and a professor at University of Memphis for over 20 years. Her research involves observations of solar coronal loops and developing constraints for coronal heating models. Schmelz has published papers on a variety of astronomical topics including magnetic fields, gas dynamics, and physical properties in stars, galaxies, interstellar matter, and the Sun using data from ground- and space-based telescopes at (almost) every band of the spectrum. She is the chair of USRA’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, a former Vice President of the American Astronomical Society, and a former chair of the Committee on the Status of Women in Astronomy. She won a teaching award from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, a service award from Gallaudet University, and a research award from the University of Memphis. She gives talks and writes articles on topics such as unconscious bias, stereotype threat, and the gender gap. She was honored in 2015 as one of Nature’s top ten people who made a difference in science for her work fighting sexual harassment.

In the News

December 22, 2021
USRA Scientists and Engineers Contribute to NASA's Xray Polarimetry Explorer

NASA’s Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) launched successfully on December 9, 2021 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was a “picture perfect” launch, according to Principal Investigator Dr. Martin Weisskopf of the NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center, with the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket performing nominally and nature providing ideal weather conditions.

USRA Scientists and Engineers Contribute to NASA's Xray Polarimetry Explorer
August 17, 2021
Bringing Earth Data to Life

Ms. Tondapu's work featured in an article on the NASA Applied Sciences website.

Bringing Earth Data to Life
April 13, 2021
Pollution Studies during COVID-19 Lockdown

View the WIRED article discussing Dr. Gupta's year-long study for pollution in India during the COVID-19 lock down.

Pollution Studies during COVID-19 Lockdown
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