Christopher Scolese


"The UB education has allowed me to explore the farthest reaches of our universe, put instruments and spacecraft on the surfaces of other planets, and to explore and understand our earth in new and better ways."


UB President Satish Tripathi and Christopher Scolese in 2015 when he was awarded  SUNY honorary degree. Photo credit: The Onion Studio.

Level of Study: BS '78

Christopher Scolese is one of the world’s leading authorities in the area of space systems engineering. As director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, he has been instrumental in shaping numerous NASA earth science and deep space exploration missions, resulting in many significant scientific breakthroughs and advancements, as well as a better understanding of our planet, solar system and universe.

Scolese, who received a BS in electrical engineering from UB 1978, joined NASA in 1987 and has served in numerous leadership roles, including as manager of the Earth Orbiting Satellite Program, deputy director of flight programs and projects for earth science, and project manager of the Earth Observing System Terra Satellite Mission.

As deputy associate administrator of space science at NASA headquarters since 2001, Scolese’s vision had a major impact on the successful Mars Rover missions (Spirit and Opportunity) and other widely known NASA missions, including the Mars Odyssey and Cassini Saturn Orbit Insertion missions. Appointed acting administrator of NASA in 2009, Scolese earned the agency’s highest honor — the Distinguished Service Medal — for his leadership in this role.

He is a fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers.