Laurie A. Leshin
WPI's 16th President
Laurie A. Leshin is the 16th and first woman president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI). She brings more than 20 years of experience as a leader in academia and government service and has an accomplished record as a space scientist. At WPI, Leshin is committed to elevating the university’s impact in communities worldwide. She combines a lifelong love of learning and exploration with a strong track record advancing critical institutions and programs.
Among her many accomplishments:
- Dean, School of Science, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, 2011-2014
- Former deputy associate administrator, NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate in Washington, D.C., 2010-2011. Her work involved daily oversight and planning for the implementation of the largest proposed shift in human spaceflight activities since the end of the Apollo program. In that role, she also worked extensively with Congress, the White House, industry, and the public.
- Deputy center director for science and technology at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, 2008-2010. Leshin was responsible for the strategy, planning and implementation of 50 earth and space flight projects. As the senior scientist at NASA Goddard, she once presented to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II regarding NASA achievements and plans.
- Director, Science and Exploration, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center from 2005-2008. Leshin was responsible for the strategic management and organization of more than 300 PhDs working in fields ranging from high-energy astrophysics to climate change.
- Member, NASA’s Mars Curiosity team. Leshin is still on call for monitoring the rover.
- Professor and Research Scientist, Arizona State University, 1998 – 2005. Helped lead the development of the School of Earth and Space Exploration; served as director of the Center for Meteorite Studies.
- Recipient, NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal, 2004
- Recipient, NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal, 2011
- Appointed by President Barack Obama to the Advisory Board of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
- Served on President Bush’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy
- International Astronomical Union recognized her by naming an asteroid “4922 Leshin.”
- Ph.D, in geochemistry from the California Institute of Technology, 1994
- MS in geochemistry from the California Institute of Technology, 1989
- B.S. in chemistry from Arizona State University, 1987
About Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Founded in 1865 in Worcester, Mass., WPI is one of the nation’s first engineering and technology universities. Its 14 academic departments offer more than 50 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in science, engineering, technology, business, the social sciences, and the humanities and arts, leading to bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. WPI’s talented faculty work with students on interdisciplinary research that seeks solutions to important and socially relevant problems in fields as diverse as the life sciences and bioengineering, energy, information security, materials processing, and robotics. Students also have the opportunity to make a difference to communities and organizations around the world through the university’s innovative Global Perspective Program. There are more than 40 WPI project centers throughout North America and Central America, Africa, Australia, Asia, and Europe.
Eileen Brangan Mell