Skip to Main Content

Dr. Paul Hertz, Director Astrophysics Division

Dr. Paul Hertz

Paul Hertz was named Director of the Astrophysics Division in the Science Mission Directorate at NASA in March 2012. He is responsible for the Agency’s research programs and missions necessary to discover how the universe works, explore how the universe began and developed into its present form, and search for Earth-like planets. He previously served as the Chief Scientist of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, managing the Directorate’s science solicitation activities and ensuring the scientific integrity of the Directorate’s programs. During that period, he oversaw the acquisition of more than $3B of space flight missions and instruments for projects across the breadth of NASA’s space and Earth science programs. Dr. Hertz joined the NASA Office of Space Science as a Senior Scientist in 2000 and managed projects and programs in astrophysics and planetary science.

Dr. Hertz received SB degrees in both Physics and Mathematics from MIT, followed by a PhD from Harvard University in Astronomy in 1983. He then joined the staff of the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC as an astrophysicist, a position he held until joining NASA in 2000. Dr. Hertz's research concentrated on X-ray emission from galactic neutron stars, black holes, and globular clusters. He authored or co-authored over 100 papers, including observational papers in every band of the electromagnetic spectrum from radio to gamma ray as well as theory and computation papers. From 1993-2001 he was Associate Professor of Computational Sciences and Space Sciences at George Mason University. Dr. Hertz is a recipient of the Meritorious Presidential Rank Award, the Robert J. Trumpler Award of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the Alan Berman Research Publication Award of the Naval Research Laboratory (twice), and multiple NASA Group Achievement Awards.

Dr. Hertz is married with three children. He has a passion for baseball which he exercises by leading his coworkers on annual treks to attend games at Nationals Park. In 2004, Dr. Hertz met the Orioles Bird when he was honored by the Baltimore Orioles as a "Heavy Hitter." In 2006, he made his Broadway debut as Contestant #28 in "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee." He made his Hollywood debut as a Nationals fan in the 2010 James L. Brooks film "How Do You Know." In 2011, Dr. Hertz received the Washington Nationals’ Spirit Award during a pre-game ceremony hosted by the team’s mascot, Screech. He threw out the first pitch at Nationals Park before the September 1, 2012, game between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Washington Nationals.