Maria Zuber is the E. A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics and vice president for research at MIT, where she is responsible for research administration and policy. She oversees MIT Lincoln Laboratory and more than a dozen interdisciplinary research laboratories and centers, and leads MIT’s Climate Action Plan. Zuber is also responsible for intellectual property and research integrity and compliance, as well as research relationships with the federal government.
Zuber’s research bridges planetary geophysics and the technology of space‐based laser and radio systems. Since 1990, she has held leadership roles associated with scientific experiments or instrumentation on 10 NASA missions, most notably serving as principal investigator of the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) mission.
Zuber holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an ScM and PhD from Brown. She has won numerous awards, including the MIT James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award, the highest honor the MIT faculty bestows to one of its own. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society, and is a fellow for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Geological Society, and the American Geophysical Union. In 2019, she was awarded the Gerard P. Kuiper Prize by the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society.
Zuber is the first woman to lead a science department at MIT and the first to lead a NASA planetary mission. In 2004, she served on the President’s Commission on the Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy. In 2002, Discover magazine named her one of the 50 most important women in science and, in 2008, she was named to the US News/Harvard Kennedy School List of America’s Best Leaders. In 2013, President Obama appointed her to the National Science Board and in 2018, she was reappointed by President Trump. She served as board chair from 2016 to 2018. In 2021, President Biden appointed Zuber to co-chair the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.