James Garvin

M Wade Holler

Jim Garvin was born in a blizzard in Poughkeepsie (New York) and educated at Brown and Stanford Universities.  He received his Ph.D. in Geological Sciences from Brown University in 1984 where his dissertation emphasized the geologic exploration of the surfaces of Mars and Venus.  For the past 36+ years he has served NASA as a scientist in various capacities, including his present role as the Chief Scientist of NASA’s flagship science center (Goddard), as well as a member of the MSL/Curiosity Mars rover and Mars Insight Lander science teams.  He has also been serving NASA Headquarters as a special science advisor for Mars to the Mars Program Director.   In his present capacity, he is helping to plan NASA’s continuing Mars exploration program, catalyze new missions to Mars, Venus, the Moon, and Earth, orchestrate innovative scientific research, and to help integrate human and robotic exploration at the Moon.   His Shuttle Laser Altimeter (SLA) experiment flew to Earth orbit on the Space Shuttle twice, and he has been a science Co-Investigator on the Mars Global Surveyor, Canada’s Radarsat-1 (and Radarsat-2), the NEAR-Shoemaker Mission, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Mars Science Laboratory, Mars InSight lander, and is leading NASA’s investigation of new islands in the Kingdom of Tonga.   Jim has received multiple NASA Outstanding Leadership awards for his work with Mars, and three Presidential Rank Awards for his scientific contributions to NASA.   In the past, he chaired the NASA Administrator’s Decadal Planning Team for Exploration, was a member on Sally Ride’s post-Challenger leadership team, and served the Agency as the NASA Chief Scientist during the time of President Bush’s Vision for Space Exploration initiative.  Recently he participated in two TEDx events, speaking about his passion for space exploration (to view, go to URL: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8f0Gh3Stf1w).  His cameo role in the recent film “World War Z” was unexpected, and he enjoyed appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman in January 2004!   He lives in Columbia Maryland with his wife Cindy and two college-age children Zachary (Princeton) and Danica (UConn/BU), plus a fuzzy mixed-breed (all American) dog named Glenda.  Jim enjoys visiting Iceland and the Azores and exploring landscapes on Earth that are reminiscent of those on Mars and Venus. Today he is still looking for “Mars on Earth” after more than 40 years investigating the Red Planet and experimenting with drone-based imaging to characterize landscapes here on Earth that most closely resemble Mars and Venus.  He hopes to visit the new islands in Tonga someday to witness the wonder of our ever-changing Earth.  He is engaged in the 500th anniversary celebration of Magellan’s circumnavigation of Earth and recently attended a Global Earth Exploration Summit in Portugal where he was a keynote speaker [GLEX 2019].  Currently, he is serving as Principal Investigator (PI) for the DAVINCI+ mission concept, which would return humanity to the Venus atmosphere during the 2020’s to measure clues to its past oceans and how to understand exo-planets like Venus.  An online feature about Jim can be found at:  https://solarsystem.nasa.gov/people/402/james-jim-brian-garvin/