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MESSENGER Telecon Panel Biographies

James W. Head, III, Professor of Geological Sciences
Brown University, Providence, RI

James W. Head, III Professor James W. Head, III, is the Louis and Elizabeth Scherck Distinguished Professor of Geological Sciences at Brown University. Previously, he worked with the NASA Apollo program, for which he analyzed potential landing sites, studied returned lunar samples and data, and provided geologic training for the Apollo astronauts. His current research centers on the study of the processes that form and modify the surfaces, crusts, and lithospheres of planets, how these processes vary with time, and how such processes interact to produce the historical record preserved on the planets. Comparative planetology, the themes of planetary evolution, and application of these to the study of early Earth history are also of interest. He has followed up his research on volcanism, tectonism, and glaciation with field studies on active volcanoes in Hawaii and at Mount St. Helens, on volcanic deposits on the seafloor with three deep-sea submersible dives, and during five field seasons in the Antarctic Dry Valleys. A MESSENGER Co-Investigator, Head is also presently a Co-Investigator on NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper and Lunar Orbiting Laser Altimeter experiments, as well as the European Space Agency’s Mars Express Mission.

Contact Information:
Phone: 401-863-2526
E-mail: james_head@brown.edu

David T. Blewett, MESSENGER Participating Scientist and Staff Scientist
Planetary Exploration Group, Space Department, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD

David T. Blewett David T. Blewett joined the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory as a member of the Senior Professional Staff in September 2007. Prior to that, he was a Principal Scientist at NovaSol, a small employee-owned high-tech company in Honolulu, Hawaii, of which he was a co-founder. His planetary research emphasizes remote sensing and geological analysis using data from planetary spacecraft and Earth-based telescopes. A MESSENGER Participating Scientist, Blewett has been a Principal Investigator in NASA’s Planetary Geology and Geophysics Program since 2002 and was selected as a Dawn at Vesta Participating Scientist in 2010. He is presently the Deputy Chair of the MESSENGER Geology Discipline Group and is a member of the MESSENGER Science Steering Committee. He holds a bachelor's degree in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of Pennsylvania, and he completed master's and doctoral work in geology and geophysics at the University of Hawaii. He was also an Antarctic Search for Meteorites field party member during the 1988–89 austral summer.

Contact Information:
Phone: 240-228-9678
E-mail: david.blewett@jhuapl.edu

Patrick N. Peplowski, Staff Scientist
Planetary Exploration Group, Space Department, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Laurel, MD

Patrick N. Peplowski Patrick N. Peplowski is a research scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory in Laurel, Md. He received a B.S. in physics from the University of Washington in 2004 and a Ph.D. in physics from the Florida State University in 2009. His research interests include experimental nuclear astrophysics and planetary science, as well as instrument development, calibration, and modeling. His early work focused on particle accelerator measurements of nuclear reactions occurring within stars, including those leading to the synthesis of elements that are created only during supernova. He currently utilizes MESSENGER Gamma-Ray and Neutron Spectrometer measurements of gamma-ray emission from Mercury to determine the elemental composition of the surface. These measurements are playing an important role in understanding the formation and early evolution of the planet.

Contact Information:
Phone: 240-228-3979
E-mail: patrick.peplowski@jhuapl.edu

Thomas H. Zurbuchen, Professor of Space Science and Aerospace Engineering
University of Michigan College of Engineering, Ann Arbor, MI

Thomas H. Zurbuchen Thomas H. Zurbuchen, Associate Dean for Entrepreneurial Programs, is a Professor of Space Science and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan College of Engineering. He holds a Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Bern, Switzerland, and was a recipient of a Swiss National Science Foundation award before coming to the University of Michigan in 1998. Since then, he has received numerous awards, including the prestigious U.S. Presidential Early Career Award, which represents the highest honor bestowed by the U.S. government on scientists and engineers beginning their independent careers. A specialist in the robotic exploration of space, Zurbuchen served as team leader for the development of NASA’s Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer, the low-energy portion of the Energetic Particle and Plasma Spectrometer (EPPS) instrument aboard the MESSENGER spacecraft.

Contact Information:
Phone: 734-647-3655 
E-mail: thomasz@umich.edu

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