New ASU School of Earth and Space Exploration director selected

By

Karin Valentine

Professor and cosmochemist Meenakshi Wadhwa has been selected as the new director for Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Exploration beginning in July of this year. 

“Professor Wadhwa is an outstanding scholar with a proven record of scientific leadership, particularly at NASA,” said Nancy Gonzales, dean of natural sciences in The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. “She is well positioned to lead the school in becoming a global leader in Earth and space science and education.”

Wadhwa has been with ASU since 2006 as the director of the Center for Meteorite Studies and professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration. She is best known for developing novel methodologies for high precision isotope analyses related to her research in the time scales and processes involved in the formation and evolution of the solar system.

“I’m incredibly energized by the great momentum that we have gained over the last 12 years under the leadership of outstanding directors,” Wadhwa said. “It is truly an honor to have the opportunity to lead this groundbreaking and innovative school to even greater success.”

Wadhwa received her doctorate from Washington University in St. Louis and was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California at San Diego and then curator at the Field Museum in Chicago before moving to ASU.

She is a recipient of the Fulbright-Nehru Academic and Professional Excellence Award (2015), the Guggenheim Fellowship (2005) and the Nier Prize of the Meteoritical Society (2000). Asteroid 8356 has also been named “8356 Wadhwa” in recognition of her contributions to meteoritics and planetary science.

“Professor Wadhwa is rare among academics for being both an international-status scientist and a person with deep training in leadership. We are so fortunate to have her step into leadership of this wonderful school, with her skills and her existing dedication to the school and its vision,” said outgoing school director Lindy Elkins-Tanton, who will be staying at ASU to co-chair the Interplanetary Initiative and lead the NASA Psyche Mission, as well continuing as a faculty member in the School of Earth and Space Exploration.

“I’m excited about our future,” Wadhwa said, “and I am looking forward to working with the entire community in the School of Earth and Space Exploration to enhance the success of our students and on growing our impact locally, nationally and globally.”

About the school

Established in 2006, ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration is committed to high-impact scientific discovery, asking important questions with deep consequences and exploring the great unknowns of the Earth, our solar system and the universe beyond. This interdisciplinary school combines the strengths of science, engineering and education to set the stage for a new era of exploration.