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Dr. Rita Sambruna

Dr. Rita Sambruna is the Program Scientist (PS) for the Physics of the Cosmos (PCOS) Program and for the Neutron star Interior Composition ExploreR (NICER).  The PCOS program encompasses a wide range of astrophysical topics, from cosmology to general relativity to fundamental physics. As the PS, Dr. Sambruna provides scientific and programmatic oversight to the Program, and acts as a focal contact point at HQ for the PCOS community, which provides input via the PCOS Program Analysis Groups (PhysPAG) and the NAC’s Astrophysics Subcommittee. NICER is a Mission of Opportunity dedicated to the study of neutron stars, with an expected launch in 2016. NICER will operate from the International Space Station and monitor dozens of X-ray bright pulsars providing detailed light curves and spectra in the energy range 0.2-12 keV. As the NICER PS, Dr. Sambruna works to ensure that the mission stays true to its science requirements. Dr. Sambruna is also the APD lead for Strategy and Planning, working with the Division Director and SMD representatives on the Agency’s Strategic Plan and SMD’s Science Plan. Additionally, Dr. Sambruna is the Deputy Program Officer for the Astrophysics Data Analysis (ADAP) program, which supports the analysis of archival data collected with NASA’s missions. Dr. Sambruna manages the extragalactic component of the ADAP Program.

A native of Italy, Dr. Sambruna received a Master and a PhD in Astrophysics from the International School of Advanced Studies (ISAS) in Trieste, Italy, with a Thesis featuring the X-ray properties of extragalactic jets observed with ROSAT.  Before joining NASA HQ in 2010, she was a Senior Scientist at Goddard Space Flight Center with the Fermi group, conducting research on galaxies, jets, and black holes. During 2000-2005, she held the Clare Boothe Luce Professorship in Physics and Astronomy at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, where she was part of the teaching Faculty and where she mentored several undergraduate and graduate students in research projects. In her free time, Rita enjoys reading, riding horses, and teaching yoga.