Thomas Statler

Scientist
NASA Headquarters

Dr. Thomas Statler is a Program Scientist in the Science Mission Directorate’s Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington, DC. Tom’s scientific research has encompassed a broad range of topics, from collisions of multiple universes to the spins and orbits of near-Earth asteroids. Among his NASA roles, Tom works in the Planetary Defense Coordination Office and is Program Scientist for the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission; he is also Program Scientist for the Lucy mission to the Trojan asteroids, and for NASA’s participation in JAXA’s MMX mission to the moons of Mars.

Tom earned his A.B. from the University of California at Berkeley, and his Ph.D. from Princeton University. For nearly 20 years he was on the faculty of Ohio University, where he was founding director of the university’s Astrophysical Institute. He worked as a Program Director at the National Science Foundation before coming to NASA Headquarters in 2014. Tom is a past chair of the American Astronomical Society’s Division on Dynamical Astronomy, and asteroid 9536 Statler is named in his honor.

Ever since explaining the phases of the Moon in 3rd-grade show-and-tell, Tom has been an enthusiastic science communicator, including 5 years of monthly newspaper columns, a decade on local radio, and countless stargazing hikes, telescope nights, and public talks. He is especially interested in the art-science interface, and has collaborated with artists on multimedia installations as well as an innovative scale-model Solar System exhibit.

Tom is also an avid musician and spare-time composer of eclectic (some would say obtuse) music for small and large ensembles. He was a co-founding member, in the 1980s, of The Composer’s Cafeteria, a new-music collective that performed many concerts in Berkeley and San Francisco. Currently he is working on projects to engage people with scientific ideas through music, exploring the parallels between artistic and scientific creativity.

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