Dr. Rita Sambruna

Rita Sambruna is a Program Scientist in the Astrophysics Division. She is currently serving a 1 year detail as Associate Lab Chief in Code 663 at Goddard Space Flight Center, with expected re-entry on February 1, 2021.

She has a background in multiwavelength observations of black holes and galaxies, with over 150 refereed papers. She was the PCOS PS from 2010 until 2019, overseeing a broad portfolio of missions and science from high-energies to the Cosmic Microwave Background to gravitational waves.

Dr. Sambruna is the Program Scientist for the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) gravitational wave observatory and for the Neutron-star Interior Composition ExploreR (NICER).

LISA, an ESA-led flagship mission, is poised to revolutionize our understanding of the Universe, which will be able to “hear” with low-frequency gravitational waves. NICER, an X-ray Mission of Opportunity operating from the International Space Station, launched in 2017, provides timing-resolved spectroscopy of pulsars (rotating neutron stars), to decipher the status of matter in their compact insides.  

Dr. Sambruna also serves as Deputy Program Officer for the Astrophysics Data Archival Program (ADAP), and leads the review of the extragalactic proposals. She is also the lead for Strategy for the Astrophysics Division, and works in collaboration with other colleagues in SMD to document the Division progress in implementing the science priorities of the Astrophysics Decadal survey. In particular, Rita was the Lead and manager for the 2020 Astrophysics Decadal Studies sponsored by NASA.

Before joining NASA in 2005, Dr. Sambruna was the Clare Booth Luce Professor at George Mason University, where she was conducting independent research and teaching. Her astrophysics interests are the study of the condition of matter around supermassive black holes (jets, winds, warm absorbers), which she studied with X-ray and Gamma-ray observatories, including Chandra, XMM-Newton, and Fermi. She now adds gravitational waves as a complement to studies of the Universe in the electromagnetic band.

After work, Rita enjoys reading, and practicing and teaching yoga. She is a certified RYT200 yoga teacher, with specialization in Yoga for Cancer. She lives in Fairfax, VA, with husband Joe Pesce and six beautiful, smart, very demanding parrots.

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