As WPI’s 16th president—and the first woman to serve in the role—Laurie Leshin is committed to elevating WPI’s impact in communities worldwide. She brings over 20 years of leadership and government service experience to the role, which she assumed in 2014, and combines a lifelong love of learning and exploration with a strong track record of igniting action to advance critical institutions and programs.
Before joining WPI, Leshin was the deputy director of NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate; the Dee and John Whiteman Dean’s Distinguished Professor of Geological Sciences at Arizona State University; and dean of the School of Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she also continued her work as a scientist for the Mars rover Curiosity mission.
She is a recipient of NASA’s Outstanding Leadership and Distinguished Public Service Medals, and the Meteoritical Society’s Nier Prize. She has also served on the board of directors of Women in Aerospace, and on the Council of the American Geophysical Union. She earned a BS in chemistry at Arizona State University, and an MS and PhD in geochemistry at the California Institute of Technology.
In the News
President Laurie Leshin was quoted in this Bloomberg Businessweek article. Looking back, then-President Bill Clinton’s decision to explore Mars “cemented NASA’s commitment to search-for-life research and made it appealing in a whole new way,” said Leshin, who the article noted is also a co-investigator on CAESAR (comet astrobiology exploration sample return).
President Laurie Leshin has been named to the Worcester Business Journal’s "The Power 50," its annual list of the most powerful people in the Central Massachusetts business community. The WBJ writes “When we seek to create this list every year, we focus on the people who use their positions to have an outsized influence on the business community. We want to tell the story of a changing region and economy through the people creating that change.” The annual list section also includes a brief article on each nominee; here is a link to President Leshin’s page.