Rosally Lopes, Ph.D.
(Volcanologist, NASA JPL)
4.4 – Aliens & Mega-Disasters (3.2.12)
Dr. Rosaly M. C. Lopes was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she lived near the famous Ipanema beach. She moved to London, England, in 1975 to study astronomy at the University of London, from where she graduated with honors in astronomy in 1978. For her doctoral studies, she specialized in planetary geology and volcanology and completed her Ph. D. in Planetary Science in 1986 with a thesis on comparing volcanic processes on Earth and Mars. Her major research interests are in planetary and terrestrial surface processes with an emphasis on volcanology. During her Ph.D. she traveled extensively to active volcanoes, particularly Mount Etna in Sicily, and became a member of the U.K.’s Volcanic Eruption Surveillance Team. Rosaly began her post doctorate career as the Curator of Modern Astronomy and Deputy Head of the Astronomy Section at the Old Royal Observatory in Greenwich, U.K. In 1989 she performed hazard mapping at the Vesuvius Observatory in Italy as a Visiting Researcher at Osservatorio Vesuviano, Naples. She joined JPL as National Research Council Resident Research Associate in 1989 and, after 2 years, became a member of the Galileo Flight project. Dr. Lopes worked on the Near Infra-red Mapping Spectrometer (NIMS) team planning and analyzing of observations of Jupiter’s volcanic moon Io from 1996 to 2001. During this exciting period of her career, she discovered 71 volcanoes on Io that had never before been detected as active. In 2002, Rosaly became Investigation Scientist on the Cassini RADAR Team. She plans science observations of Saturn, its moons, and rings and Co-Chairs the Cassini Satellites Orbiter Science Team. Her main interest on Cassini is on Saturn’s largest moon Titan. The Synthetic Aperture (SAR) data from the RADAR instrument show that Titan has volcanic features, but not like silicate volcanism on the Earth or Io. Titan’s flows and other volcanic features are likely the result of ice volcanism (cryovolcanism). Rosaly is a strong supporter of education, diversity, and outreach both nationally and internationally. She has given many public lectures in several countries in Europe and the Americas and was the co-organizer of the United Nations/ European Space Agency/The Planetary Society workshops in 1992 and 1993. In 2005, she was awarded the Carl Sagan medal by the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, in recognition of her significant efforts over the past 20 years in public outreach and education, particularly among Hispanic groups and young women. This work includes innumerable public talks, media interviews, articles in magazines and newspapers, a book on planetary volcanism, and major efforts to nurture and mentor young scientists. She has served on many scientific committees including the JPL Director’s Advisory Committee for Women, Committee for Minorities and Women in Geosciences at the Geological Society of America and the Subcommittee on Diversity at the American Geophysical Union. Her awards include the Latinas in Science medal from the Comision Feminil Mexicana Nacional in 1991, the 1997 Woman of the Year in Science and Technology Award from the Miami-based GEM television, and the Medal of Ecellence from Women at Work in 2006. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (elected 2006), the Royal Geographical Society, and the Explorers Club. She is a member of the International Astronomical Union, the American Geophysical Society, and the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior. Rosaly has written many research papers, articles, book chapters and encyclopedia entries. She has been active in the media has been featured on two documentaries for Discovery channel and on Nightline, and interviewed by a variety of national and international media. She has written four books, The Volcano Adventure Guide (Cambridge University Press, 2005),Volcanic Worlds: Exploring the Solar System Volcanoes (co-edited with Tracy Gregg; Praxis/Springer-Verlag, 2004), Io After Galileo (co-edited with John Spencer, Prxis/Springer-Verlag, 2006) and Alien Worlds (with Michael Carroll, due out in 2007, Johns Hopkins Press). She is currently chief editor on a research book on Io (for Praxis/Springer-Verlag). Rosaly’s hobbies include scuba diving, traveling to volcanoes all over the world, and collecting volcano art.