Dr. Paul Hertz, Astrophysics Division Director

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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, to explore how the universe began and developed into its present form, and to 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. Dr. Hertz joined the NASA Office of Space Science as a Senior Scientist in 2000 and has managed projects and programs in astrophysics, heliophysics, and planetary science.

Dr. Hertz received BS degrees in both Physics and Mathematics from MIT, followed by a PhD in Astronomy from Harvard University 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 NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, the Robert J. Trumpler Award, the Alan Berman Research Publication Award (twice), and multiple NASA Group Achievement Awards.

Dr. Hertz is married with three children, two children-in-law, and one grandchild. He made his Broadway debut in 2006 as Contestant #28 in "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee," and he made his Hollywood debut as a Nationals fan in the 2010 James L. Brooks film "How Do You Know." He has a passion for baseball which he exercises by leading his coworkers on treks to attend games at Nationals Park. Dr. Hertz is a published sabermetrician (link). He met the Orioles Bird in 2004 when he was honored by the Baltimore Orioles as a "Heavy Hitter," and he received the Washington Nationals’ Spirit Award in 2011 from 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. In November 2019, Dr. Hertz carried the banner down Constitution Avenue in the victory parade of the World Series Champion Washington Nationals.