Indian-American named to top position at NASA

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Portrait of acting NASA Chief of Staff Bhavya Lal, Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021 at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration has named an Indian-American to a top position at the agency.

Bhavya Lal has been appointed as acting chief of staff, NASA announced Feb. 1, 2021, among the slew of other appointees.

As the senior White House appointee at NASA, Lal served as a member of the Biden Presidential Transition Agency Review Team for the agency and oversaw the agency’s transition under the administration of President Joe Biden, the press release from NASA said.

Lal has extensive experience in engineering and space technology, serving as a member of the research staff at the Institute for Defense Analyses Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI) from 2005 to 2020, NASA noted.

At STPI, Lal led analysis of space technology, strategy, and policy for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and National Space Council, as well as federal space-oriented organizations, including NASA, the Department of Defense, and the intelligence community.

Lal is an active member of the space technology and policy community, having chaired, co-chaired, or served on five National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Committees including, most recently, one on Space Nuclear Propulsion Technologies that is set for release in 2021.

She served two consecutive terms on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Federal Advisory Committee on Commercial Remote Sensing and was an External Council member of NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts Program and the Technology, Innovation and Engineering Advisory Committee of the NASA Advisory Council.

Before joining STPI, Lal was president of C-STPS LLC, a science and technology policy research and consulting firm.

Prior to that, she was the director of the Center for Science and Technology Policy Studies at Abt Associates, a global policy research consultancy based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Lal will also serve as the senior advisor for budget and finance at NASA, the agency said in its press release.

She co-founded and is co-chair of the policy track of the American Nuclear Society’s annual conference on Nuclear and Emerging Technologies in Space (NETS) and co-organizes a seminar series on space history and policy with the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.

For her many contributions to the space sector, she was nominated and selected to be a Corresponding Member of the International Academy of Astronautics.

Lal earned Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in nuclear engineering, as well as a Master of Science degree in technology and policy, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and holds a doctorate in public policy and public administration from George Washington University. She is a member of both the nuclear engineering and public policy honor societies.

 

 

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