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Time for a Reset!

The Big Picture

New year and a new era! NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is expected to step down when President-elect Joe Biden takes office on January 20. Biden has appointed a NASA transition team. He will likely prioritize Earth and climate science.

Biden's NASA Transition Team

Leading the NASA transition team is planetary geologist Ellen Stofan, a former NASA chief scientist who currently heads the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum. She is the frontrunner to replace Bridenstine as NASA Administrator.

Also on the team are:

Waleed Abdalati, a University of Colorado at Boulder geography professor who currently heads the Earth Science & Observation Center at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences;

Jedidah Isler, a Dartmouth College astrophysics professor;

Bhavya Lal, a scientist at the IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the National Space Council, and Federal space-oriented organizations including NASA, the Department of Defense, and the Intelligence Community;

Pam Melroy, a retired U.S. Air Force officer and former NASA astronaut who piloted and commanded three space shuttle missions;

Dave Noble, the ACLU executive director and former advisor in the Obama administration;

Shannon Valley, a fellow at in Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech; and

David Weaver, a communications director for the Air Line Pilots Association and former associate administrator for NASA’s Office of Communications.

Space For Women

Five of the eight members of this transition team—Stofan, Isler, Lal, Melroy, and Valley—are women. Stofan is the frontrunner to lead NASA.


Isler and Valley are African-American. In 2014, Isler became the first African American woman to earn a PhD in astrophysics from Yale University.

Note: Though not on the transition team, J. Marshall Shepherd, current chair of NASA's Earth Science Advisory Committee and former president of the American Meteorological Society and former meteorologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, is also reportedly being considered as a possible head for NASA. He is African-American.

Photo of Ellen Stofan courtesy of NASA.


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