About the President

History made at WPI—The Inauguration of Laurie A. Leshin

Thousands of visitors attended President Leshin’s inauguration on Saturday, Nov. 8, 2014. The inauguration kicked off WPI’s Sesquicentennial Year. Among the festivities:

  • Inaugural Symposium on the afternoon of Friday, November 7
  • Installation Ceremony and Luncheon on Saturday, November 8
  • An Inaugural Ball on Saturday evening, November 8

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President Laurie Leshin describes herself as a “space nerd” and shares WPI’s love and pride for Robert Goddard. Her professional biography is impressive as well as interesting, as are these facts and highlights about the 16th president of WPI:

  • She’s a member of NASA’s Mars Curiosity team, still on call for monitoring the rover
  • Her research area is cosmochemistry, the study of the chemical composition of matter in the universe
  • She has an asteroid named for her: 4922 Leshin, located in the main belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter and discovered on March 2, 1981
  • She shares a birthday with astronaut Neil Armstrong
  • She’s an avid Twitter user, with over 1,500 followers-newest handle is @LaurieofMars
  • She is a strong advocate for women in STEM and worked with Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, on a science education program for girls
  • She was born in Boston and raised in Tempe, Arizona
  • She gave a presentation on space exploration to Queen Elizabeth II when she visited NASA in 2007
  • She spent six weeks living in a tent and collecting meteorites in Antarctica
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At left, President Leshin visited WPI students at the Bar Harbor Project Center, taking time for a selfie during an afternoon of learning about their field work.

See Also

Awards & Appointments

  • Appointed by President Barack Obama to the Advisory Board of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
  • Served on President Bush’s Commission on Implementation of United States Space Exploration Policy
  • Received the NASA Distinguished Public Service Medal in 2004 and the Outstanding Leadership Medal in 2011