Erica N. Montbach outside a brick building with blonde hair, a blue collared shirt, and a dark jacket.

Erica N. Montbach

Manager for Planetary Exploration Science Technology Office (PESTO) and Program Officer for Concepts for Ocean worlds Life Detection Technology (COLDTech)

Erica Montbach is the Manager for Planetary Exploration Science Technology Office (PESTO). PESTO is a NASA headquarters office that manages technology development for the Planetary Science Division and is located at the NASA Glenn Research Center. Dr. Montbach develops the technology investment strategy for future planetary science missions, manages all pre-mission planetary science technology development, coordinates with other technology development programs, and infuses technology into planetary science. She leads the Program Officer for Concepts for Ocean worlds Life Detection Technology (COLDTech) and supports the other program officers in PESTO for their management of the PESTO portfolio.

Erica’s experience has focused on research and development, entrepreneurship, small business innovation, industry trend analysis, public private partnerships, patent portfolio maturation, and grants management. She has led multi-disciplinary teams to develop solutions for a sustained presence on the Moon including enabling materials, equipment, and supplies that can withstand the harsh lunar dust along with generating fuel and other consumables from local resources, as part of In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) technologies. Her technical background includes designing advanced manufacturing environments, materials development, creating flexible electronics, and evolving display technologies for consumer products. 

Erica has leveraged her unique roles as a manager and industrial scientist in government and in advanced manufacturing corporations to foster public-private collaborations with academic colleagues, business executives, student interns, teachers and community leaders to drive the dissemination of knowledge gained from research and expand opportunities for traditionally underserved individuals, particularly women and minorities, in basic and applied science and technology.

Erica has co-authored a published book chapter, written over 35 technical papers, 22 patents, and presented on technical results along with technology direction and program management. Dr. Montbach has a B.A. in Physics from The College of Wooster, an M.S. in Physics from Colorado State University, and a Ph.D. in Chemical Physics from the Liquid Crystal Institute at Kent State University. She enjoys baking, running, and spending time with her family and her goofy Newfoundland dog.

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