Press Release

PSI’s Ryan Watkins Receives NASA SSERVI’s Niebur Early Career Achievement Award

By SpaceRef Editor
July 9, 2020
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Planetary Science Institute Research Scientist Ryan Watkins has been honored by NASA’s Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute with the Susan Mahan Niebur Early Career Award. 

The Niebur award goes to a researcher who is within 10 years of receiving their Ph.D., who has made significant contributions to the science and/or exploration communities. The prize is presented, along with an invited lecture, at the annual Exploration Science Forum held each July at NASA Ames Research Center. 

“It’s a true honor to be given an award in the name of Susan Niebur. While I didn’t know her personally, her passion for and commitment to advocating for early career scientists, women in science, and parents in science made her a true leader and catalyst for change in our community,” Watkins said. “I have been an active advocate for early career scientists and for mothers in science for several years, and I plan to proudly carry the torch that Susan lit as I advance through my career. 

“I have had many great opportunities to merge my passion for lunar exploration with my research on understanding the physical and compositional properties of the lunar surface, and I am incredibly grateful to Susan and others who have continually supported early career scientists,” she said. 

“Dr. Watkins’ research focuses on integrating remote sensing data sets to characterize the physical and compositional properties of airless bodies, with particular emphasis on the lunar surface. She specializes in using photometry to understand physical and compositional properties of the lunar surface, and in integrating planetary data sets to assess landing site safety hazards for future missions,” SSERVI said in a press release. 

“Dr. Watkins is actively engaged in service and leadership within the planetary science community. She serves on the Organizing Committee for the Next Generation Lunar Scientists and Engineers (NextGen) group, on the Executive Committee for the Lunar Exploration Analysis Group (LEAG), on the Steering Committee for the Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) Working Group, and on Blue Origin’s Science Advisory Board for their Blue Moon lander project,” SSERVI’s release said. “In addition to research and planetary community service, Dr. Watkins regularly participates in Education and Public Outreach in her local community, and with the Solar System Exploration Virtual Institute (SSERVI) Toolbox for Research and Exploration (TREX) team. SSERVI is very pleased to present the Susan Niebur award to Dr. Ryan Watkins.” 

SpaceRef staff editor.