NASA Chooses Its Next Chief Scientist: Jim Green

Jim Green
Jim Green, the head of NASA's Planetary Science Division shown here in 2013 at the first anniversary of the Mars rover Curiosity's landing, will become NASA chief scientist beginning May 1, 2018. (Image credit: NASA/Carla Cioffi)

NASA has tapped Jim Green to be its next chief scientist, agency officials announced today (April 10).

Green, who has headed NASA's Planetary Sciences Division since August 2006, will begin his new job on May 1. He will succeed Gale Allen, who has been acting chief scientist since 2016 and will retire after more than three decades of government work, NASA officials said.

"I want to thank Gale for all she has done for the agency and, for the past few years, in the Office of the Chief Scientist. Gale had an amazing career and is a role model to so many. I wish her the best in retirement," acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said in a statement. 

"I’m excited to have Jim take on this new role," Lightfoot added. "He brings a variety of scientific research experience and planetary exploration expertise to the chief scientist position that will allow him to hit the ground running with great enthusiasm and engagement."

In his new job, Green will serve as the main adviser to the NASA chief and other top brass on agency science programs, planning and policy. He will also represent and communicate NASA's research goals and achievements to the broader scientific community, agency officials said.

Lori Glaze, the current head of the Planetary Geology, Geophysics and Geochemistry Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, will become acting director of the Planetary Sciences Division when Green assumes his new role, agency officials said. 

More changes will be coming to NASA leadership soon. Lightfoot has said he will retire from NASA on April 30. He will be succeeded as acting administrator by Steve Jurczyk, who currently serves as the agency's associate administrator — unless President Donald Trump's choice to head NASA, former Oklahoma congressman Jim Bridenstine, gets confirmed by Congress before then. This latter scenario doesn't seem likely, however, given that Bridenstine's nomination has been in limbo for 14 months.

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.