Dr. David Alexander
Professor, Physics and Astronomy
David Alexander is a professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, where his primary area of research is solar astrophysics. As Director, Professor Alexander is responsible for the mission and direction required to develop and achieve the goals and objectives of the institute.
Professor Alexander is a member of the Rice Faculty Senate and author of “The Sun” part of the Greenwood Press “Guide to the Universe” Series. He received a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers in 2004 and was appointed a Kavli Frontiers Fellow by the National Academy of Sciences in 2006. He is currently the Chair of the Solar Physics Division of the American Astronomy Society, Chair of the Solar Heliospheric Interplanetary Environment (SHINE) program, Chair of the Mauna Loa Solar Observatory Users’ Committee, and a member of the American Geophysical Union Publications Committee. Professor Alexander has served on many national and professional committees including the NASA Advisory Council’s Heliophysics Subcommittee, the NASA Solar Heliospheric Management and Operations Working Group (SH-MOWG), ESA/NASA Solar Orbiter Payload Committee and the Science Advisory Board of the High Altitude Observatory Coronal Solar Magnetism Observatory.
Professor Alexander joined the faculty at Rice in 2003, coming from the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center in Palo Alto, California where he was a Staff Physicist working on the development of advanced space missions for solar physics. He received his Bachelor of Science in Natural Philosophy and Astronomy, and his doctorate on Relativistic Cosmological Models from the University of Glasgow.
Dr. Mike Massimino
Mike Massimino is a NASA Astronaut and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science. As Executive Director, Dr. Massimino is responsible to forge strong and lasting ties between Rice and the NASA Johnson Space Center.
Dr. Massimino is the veteran of two space flights, STS-109 onboard Space Shuttle Columbia in March 2002 and STS-125 onboard Space Shuttle Atlantis in May 2009. STS-109 was the fourth Hubble Space Telescope servicing mission during which Dr. Massimino and his crewmates successfully upgraded the Hubble Space Telescope leaving it with a new power unit, a new camera (the Advanced Camera for Surveys), and new solar arrays. STS-125 was the fifth and final Hubble servicing mission during which Dr. Massimino and his fellow space walkers overcame frozen bolts and stuck handrails to upgrade and service Hubble while setting a crew record for spacewalking with 36 hours and 56 minutes during five spacewalks over the mission. The refurbished Hubble Telescope now has four new or rejuvenated scientific instruments, new batteries, new gyroscopes, and a new computer. Dr. Massimino has logged a total of 571 hours and 47 minutes in space, and a cumulative total of 30 hours and 4 minutes of spacewalking in four spacewalks over his two missions. In between his flight assignments, Dr. Massimino has had technical assignments in the Astronaut Office’s Robotics Branch and EVA (Spacewalking) Branch, as a spacecraft communicator (Capcom) in the Mission Control Center, and most recently as Chief of the Astronaut Appearances Office.
Dr. Massimino was selected as an Astronaut in 1996. Before joining NASA he was a faculty member at the Georgia Institute of Technology where he taught classes and conducted research on human-machine systems. He received his Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering from Columbia University, a Master of Science in Technology and Policy from MIT, and a Master of Science and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT.
Dr. Patricia Reiff
Associate Director for Public Outreach
Professor, Physics and Astronomy
Professor Patricia Reiff, the founding director of the Rice Space Institute, has been involved in space plasma physics research for over 40 years, with interests in the aurora and space weather. She received her Ph.D. analyzing Apollo plasma data, and was a Co-I on the Dynamics Explorer, Polar, IMAGE, and Cluster Missions. She is Education and Public Outreach (EPO) lead for the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission, to be launched in 2014, which provides free realtime spaceweather alerts to over 850 subscribers.
Dr. Reiff has served as director for public education and teacher enhancement projects for over 20 years. Her “Space Update” software together with “Earth Update” and “Space Weather” have been distributed to over 250,000 educators and learners. Her project “Immersive Earth” created full-dome digital planetarium shows, and has created a portable planetarium system, “Discovery Dome”, which is now in over 160 sites in 29 countries and 29 states. These NASA Cooperative Agreements have spun off two companies, Space Update, Inc. and MTPE which distribute educational materials and portable planetariums.
She has won numerous awards, including Houston’s “Women on the Move” award in 1990. She was elected to the Cosmos Club in 1992, a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 1997, and received the AGU “Athelstan Spilhaus Award” for public education in 2009. She also received the “Aerospace Educator Award” from Women in Aerospace in 1999 and NASA “Group Achievement” awards for the IMAGE, GGS and Cluster missions. In addition to training thirteen PhD’s, she created a “Master of Science Teaching” degree, with 23 teacher alumni as of 2011. Most recently, Professor Reiff was named the 2012 “Birkeland Lecturer” at the University of Oslo, Norway.