Press Release

Dr. Melissa Ann McGrath Named Deputy Director of Science, Technology Directorate at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

By SpaceRef Editor
January 27, 2005
Filed under ,

Dr. Melissa Ann McGrath has been appointed deputy director of the Science
and Technology Directorate at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in
Huntsville, Ala.

McGrath, a former astronomer at the Space Telescope Science Institute in
Baltimore, supports Dr. Ann Whitaker, director of Marshall’s Science and
Technology Directorate, in managing operations and business planning for the
organization, and helps oversee all Earth and space science activities at
the Marshall Center.

The directorate studies new technologies for investigating other worlds —
the core of the Vision for Space Exploration, which seeks to extend human
reach throughout the Solar System. In her new role, McGrath helps oversee
the research efforts of nearly 450 civil servant and contractor employees,
who perform a range of research and test activities in fields including
Earth science, space science, optics, advanced propulsion and materials

“Dr. McGrath’s distinguished career in astronomy and her exhaustive pursuit
of knowledge about worlds beyond our own make her invaluable to our team,”
Whitaker said. “Her appointment will increase the Marshall Center’s esteem
across the science community — and will help ensure our successful pursuit
of NASA’s mission.”

McGrath joined NASA in January 2005, after 12 years at the Space Telescope
Science Institute, the non-profit science operations center for the Hubble
Space Telescope — the first of NASA’s Great Observatories, launched in
1990. Most recently, McGrath was manager of the Institute’s Community
Missions Office, overseeing contracts and developing new business ventures.

A native of Grand Island, Neb., McGrath earned a bachelor’s degree in 1977
in astronomy and physics from Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass.
She earned a master’s degree in 1984 and a doctorate in 1987 — both in
astronomy — from the University of Virginia in Charlottesville.

McGrath taught education and science at the University of Virginia between
1981 and 1984. In 1987, she was invited to Johns Hopkins University in
Baltimore as a postdoctoral research fellow. In 1991, she became an
associate research scientist with the university’s Department of Physics and
Astronomy. She remained an adjunct faculty member at Johns Hopkins until

McGrath joined the Space Telescope Science Institute in 1992. She managed
Hubble science teams and other researchers from 1993 to 1997 as chief of the
Institute’s Science Planning Branch. As systems integration manager from
2000 to 2001, she developed new business and managed projects such as NASA’s
Kepler Discovery mission, expected to launch in 2007 to search for
Earth-like planets around distant stars.

Among her key roles at the Institute was serving between 1994 and 2001 as an
instrument scientist on Hubble spectrographs — instruments that break up
light and other electromagnetic radiation into component wavelengths, then
record the spectrum and send the data back to Earth. During the first seven
years of Hubble’s flight, the Goddard High Resolution Spectrograph measured
ultraviolet light to help researchers analyze the chemical composition of
stars, planets and galaxies. It was replaced in 1997 by the Space Telescope
Imaging Spectrograph, designed to help scientists understand the origins,
properties and dynamics of space itself.

McGrath is a member of numerous astrophysical organizations, including the
American Astronomical Society and the International Astronomical Union. She
is the author or co-author of more than 50 technical publications, primarily
focused on atmospheric and planetary studies of other worlds and moons in
the Solar System.

A native of Grand Island, Neb., Dr. McGrath is married to Dr. James
Kinnally, a nuclear scientist at Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory in
Laurel, Md.

For more information on the Internet about science at the Marshall Center,

SpaceRef staff editor.