Leadership Team

The Office of the Associate Administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate (SMD) is responsible for directing and overseeing the nation’s space research program in Earth and space science. The Directorate engages the external and internal science community to define and prioritize science questions and seeks to expand the frontiers of five broad scientific pursuits: Earth Science, Planetary Science, Biological and Physical Sciences, Heliophysics, and Astrophysics.

Through a variety of robotic observatory and explorer craft, and through sponsored research, the Directorate provides virtual human access to the farthest reaches of space and time, as well as practical information about changes on our home planet.

Associate Administrators


Dr. Nicola Fox

Associate Administrator

Portrait photo of Sandra Connelly

Sandra E. Connelly

Deputy Associate Administrator


Dr. Michael New

Deputy Associate Administrator for Research

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Dr. Joel Kearns

Deputy Associate Administrator for Exploration


Dr. Wanda Peters

Deputy Associate Administrator for Programs

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Karen Flynn

Deputy Associate Administrator for Management

Paul Hertz portrait

Dr. Paul Hertz

Senior Advisor to the Associate Administrator

Science Division Directors

The SMD Division Directors lead NASA scientists and engineers across the globe in the development and operations of over 100 missions/year.

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Dr. Lisa Carnell

Biological and Physical Sciences Division Director

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Dr. Karen M. St. Germain

Earth Science Division Director

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John Gagosian

Joint Agency Satellite Division Director

Dr. Gina DiBraccio portrait in front of a light gray backdrop. She is smiling, has brown hair, and is wearing a black top.

Dr. Gina DiBraccio

Planetary Science Division Acting Director

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Dr. Mark Clampin

Astrophysics Division Director

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Dr. Joseph Westlake

Heliophysics Division Director

Program Directors


Jeff Gramling

Mars Sample Return Program Director

Other Division Directors


Holly Degn

Resource Management Division Director

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Dan Woods

Science Engagement and Partnerships Division Acting Director

Branch Chiefs

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Dr. Jens Feeley

Chief of Policy Branch

Chief Technologist

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Dr. Carolyn Mercer

SMD Chief Technologist

Chief Science Data Officer

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Kevin Murphy

SMD Chief Science Data Officer

Senior Communications Official

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Karen Fox

Senior Communications Official