Alan Stern is Associate Vice President of the Southwest Research Institute’s Space Science and Engineering Division in Boulder, Colorado, and chair of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation’s Suborbital Applications Researchers Group (SARG). Stern previously served as NASA’s Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate. As chief executive of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, Stern directed a wide variety of research and scientific exploration programs for Earth studies, space weather, the solar system, and the universe beyond. Stern is a planetary scientist and an author who has published more than 175 technical papers and 40 popular articles. Stern has a long association with NASA, serving as the principal investigator on a number of planetary and lunar missions, including the New Horizons Pluto-Kuiper Belt mission. He was the principal investigator of the Southwest Ultraviolet Imaging System, which flew on two space shuttle missions, STS-85 in 1997 and STS-93 in 1999.
Stern holds a doctorate in astrophysics and planetary science from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and master’s degrees in aerospace engineering and planetary atmospheres and bachelor’s degrees in physics and astronomy from the University of Texas, Austin. He is an instrument-rated commercial pilot and flight instructor, with both powered and sailplane ratings.