Photo credit NASA
Events and Programs

Are We Going To Mars? An Evening With Trailblazers

Join us on September 26, 2018, for a conversation about the theoretical, practical, and business aspects of reaching the red planet.

On September 26, 2018, the National Science and Technology Medals Foundation will host Are We Going to Mars? An Evening With Trailblazers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

The panel will focus on our ability to reach Mars in the near future. The event will bring together panelists who can speak to the practical, theoretical, and business aspects of this landmark achievement. Dr. Ellen Ochoa, the former director of the Johnson Space Center, Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, president of RPI and recipient of the National Medal of Science, Dr. James Gates, renown theoretical physicist and recipient of the National Medal of Science, and Thomas Zelibor, CEO of the Space Foundation, will be participating.

Following the panel, audience members will be able to ask questions of the speakers during an open Q&A session.

This event is free and open to the public. Registration is required to attend but does not guarantee a seat. Seats will be available on a first-come-first-serve basis to those who have registered. Register in advance! 

For those unable to join us in person, the event will be broadcast live on Facebook.

5:30-7:30 PM ET

About the speakers

Dr. Ellen Ochoa

Dr. Ellen Ochoa, a veteran astronaut, was the 11th director of the Johnson Space Center. Ochoa joined NASA in 1988 as a research engineer at Ames Research Center and moved to Johnson Space Center in 1990 when she was selected as an astronaut.  She became the first Hispanic woman to go to space when she served on the nine-day STS-56 mission aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1993. She has flown in space four times, including STS-66, STS-96, and STS-110, logging nearly 1,000 hours in orbit.

Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson 

Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson currently serves as the 18th president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She was the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. from MIT, chair the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission, lead a top-ranked U.S. research university, and win the National Medal of Science. Outside of RPI, she serves on several boards, including FedEx, IBM, and Medtronic, and was previously appointed to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and the President’s Intelligence Advisory Council.

Dr. James Gates

Sylvester James Gates is a professor of Physics and the Co-Director of the Presidential Scholars Program at Brown University. He received his Ph.D from MIT; his doctoral thesis was the first at MIT on the topic of supersymmetry. He was a University System Regents Professor, Distinguished University Professor, the John S. Toll Professor of Physics, and the Center for Particle & String Theory Director at the University of Maryland, College Park. He also served on President Barack Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) and the Maryland State Board of Education (MD-BoE). Dr. Gates is a past president of the National Society of Black Physicists. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Institute of Physics in the U.K.

His current work focuses on a combination of theoretical physics, mathematics, network theory, computer science, and even evolution and genetics. 

Thomas Zelibor

Thomas Zelibor is the Chief Executive Officer of the Space Foundation, an organization dedicated to inspiring, educating, connecting, and advocating on behalf of the global space community. Before joining the Space Foundation, Mr. Zelibor was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for Lightwave Logic Inc.  

He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Oceanography from the United States Naval Academy in 1976. He was a Naval Aviator early in his Navy career before branching out into space and information technology assignments.

About the AEW program

Every scientist has a unique story, and it is the mission of the NSTMF to share these stories far and wide. It is more important than ever to celebrate the heroes of American scientific excellence who are driving our world forward. By sharing these stories and celebrating the diverse backgrounds of today's leaders in science and tech, the AEW program gives anyone the opportunity to learn, be inspired, and perhaps begin their own career in STEM. For more information about the AEW, read this.

Thank you to our event sponsors: