NASA has selected Dr. Joseph Westlake to fill the position of Heliophysics Division Director. Joe will join the Science Mission Directorate and assume his new role on Jan. 16, 2024.
I am pleased to have Joe take on the role as the Heliophysics Division Director. Joe has a strong background in heliophysics and planetary science and has already made significant contributions to our efforts by supporting several NASA missions including the Magnetospheric Multiscale mission, the Van Allen Probes, Parker Solar Probe, the Interstellar Boundary Explorer mission, the Juno mission, Cassini and the European Space Agency’s Juice mission to Ganymede.
Joe brings with him more than 18 years of scientific, technical, management, and programmatic experience in heliophysics, astrophysics, and planetary science. He is coming to us from the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHUAPL) where he works as a researcher and project scientist for the Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe mission and principal investigator for the Plasma Instrument for Magnetic Sounding, or PIMS, instrument destined for Jupiter’s moon, Europa, onboard the Europa Clipper mission.
“I’m very excited to join NASA as the Division Director for Heliophysics,” said Westlake. “I look forward to diving in and working with the vibrant community of scientists and engineers that are uncovering the mysteries of our star.”
In 2024, the National Academies will release a new Decadal Survey that lays out a strategy to advance scientific understanding of the Sun, Sun-Earth connections and the origins of space weather, the Sun’s interactions with other bodies in the solar system, the interplanetary medium, and the interstellar medium; Joe’s experience across several scientific disciplines, as well as his leadership and technical experience, uniquely qualifies him for this critical leadership position in the Science Mission Directorate as we embark on an exciting new decade of solar and space physics.
I extend my sincere appreciation to Peg Luce who led the Division for nearly a year while the director position was vacant; she has done a stellar job. With nearly 10 years as the deputy director, Peg’s exceptional efforts have brought significant strides within Science Mission Directorate and the broader scientific community. I am thrilled she will continue serving as the Heliophysics Division Deputy Director and helping Joe usher the division into this new era.
“The Sun touches everything and the science of heliophysics is helping us unlock its mysteries,” said Peg Luce, deputy division director, Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Joe’s unique experience and insight will help guide the division as we usher in solar max, launch a host of new heliophysics missions, and flow through the Heliophysics Big Year."
Please join me in welcoming Joe to Headquarters!