Ellen R. Stofan, Ph.D., the John and Adrienne Mars Director of the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum and former Chief Scientist of NASA, will address the Class of 2023 at Hiram Colleges’ Matriculation Convocation on Thursday, August 22. The personal and professional successes of Dr. Stofan speak directly to the value of a liberal arts and the importance of developing a skill set and mindset to adapt to the many changes of a 21st-century career journey.

With a background in the liberal arts, Dr. Stofan received her bachelor’s degree in geology from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. She then pursued a master’s degree, followed by a doctoral degree, both in geological sciences from Brown University. While completing her doctoral degree, Dr. Stofan joined the Jet Propulsion Lab as a post-doctoral fellow, where she became the deputy project scientist for the Magellan Mission to Venus.

Dr. Stofan has more than 25 years of experience in space-related organizations with a deep research background in planetary geology. From 2013-2016, she was the chief scientist at NASA, serving as the principal advisor to former Administrator Charles Bolden on NASA’s strategic planning and programs. During her time in the position, she helped guide the development of a long-range plan to get humans to Mars, in addition to working on strategies for NASA to support commercial activity in low Earth orbit as it transitions from the International Space Station (ISS) to sending humans to the Moon and Mars in the mid-2020s. Dr. Stofan also worked with President Barack Obama’s science advisor and the National Science and Technology Council on science policy.

Over the years, Dr. Stofan has established herself as an accomplished public speaker, addressing the World Economic Forum’s Council on the Future of Space Technologies at Davos, the World Science Festival, SciFest Africa, and many universities and schools around the world. Dr. Stofan has also published extensively and received many awards and honors, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, as well as being named one of “CNN’s Extraordinary People of 2014.” She is also co-author of two books.

Dr. Stofan’s parents, Barbara and Andrew Stofan, are both members of the Hiram College Class of 1957.

Held annually, Matriculation Convocation is rich in tradition and serves as an official welcome to the Hiram community for the entering class and family members. Following a traditional academic procession, the ceremony will begin at 2 p.m. in Hayden Auditorium in Bates Hall.


by Jenelle Bayus

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