MIT EAPS Directory

Maria Zuber

E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics, Vice President for Research, MIT

Maria Zuber’s research focuses on the structure and tectonics of solid solar system objects. She specializes in using gravity and laser altimetry measurements to determine interior structure and evolution and has been involved in more than half a dozen NASA planetary missions aimed at mapping the Moon, Mars, Mercury, as well as several asteroids. She was principal investigator for the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) and as such became the first woman to lead a NASA spacecraft mission.

Zuber received her B.A. in astronomy and geology from the University of Pennsylvania. She also earned Sc.M. and Ph.D. degrees, both in geophysics, from Brown University. Zuber later worked at Johns Hopkins University and served as a research scientist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. She joined the faculty of MIT in 1995 where, as chair of the Dept. of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences between 2003 to 2012, she became the first woman to lead a science department at MIT. 

She currently serves as MIT's Vice President for Research.


MIT James R. Killian, Jr. Faculty Achievement Award (2012-2013) | Harry H. Hess Medal, American Geophysical Union (2012) | NASA Outstanding Public Leadership Medal (2012) | NASA Group Achievement Award for the GRAIL Science Team (2012) | U.S. News & World Report/Harvard Kennedy School Center for Public Leadership List of America’s Best Leaders (2008) | Fellow, Geological Society of America (2008) | Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (2007) | Carl Sagan Memorial Award, American Astronautical Society/Planetary Society (2007) | G. K. Gilbert Award, Geological Society of America (2007) | Member, American Philosophical Society (2005) | Member, National Academy of Sciences (2004) | Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2004) | | List of 50 Most Important Women in Science, Discover Magazine (November) (2002) | Fellow, American Geophysical Union (2001)

Contact Information

t: 617 253 6397





Ph.D., Geophysics, Brown University, 1986
Sc.M., Geophysics, Brown University, 1983
B.A., Astronomy (honors), University of Pennsylvania, 1980

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