Dr. Jim Zimbelman served as the department chair of the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies from October 2002, to February, 2007, as part of a rotating chair position among the department scientists. His research interests include topical geologic mapping of Mars and Venus; remote sensing of the terrestrial planets at visual, infrared, and radar wavelengths; lava flow emplacement on the terrestrial planets; sand transport and deposition on Earth and Mars; and field studies in diverse volcanic and desert terrains.
He has over 100 peer-reviewed articles published in scientific journals and books, planetary maps published by the U.S. Geological Survey, and over 430 published abstracts for presentations at various scientific audiences. He was elected a Fellow of the Geological Society of America in 1999, and he is a long-time member of the American Geophysical Union and the Geological Society of America. He has served on many committees for NASA, including Chairman of the Planetary Cartography Working Group (1991-4), Chairman of the RPIF Directors and Data Managers Working Group (1994-7), Chairman of the Mars Surveyor '98 Instrument Review Panel (1995), and Chairman of the Planetary Geology and Geophysics Review Panel (1997-9).
At the National Air and Space Museum, he was director of the Regional Planetary Image Facility at CEPS (1989-02), curator for the Exploring the Planets gallery (1998-02), lead curator for development of the new Exploring the Planets gallery (since 2016) as part of the Transformation effort underway at the Museum, and he gives public lectures on a variety of topics in planetary science for the Smithsonian Institution's national and international lecture programs.
Mauna Loa is the largest active volcano on Earth. New studies have provided insights into the emplacement processes for recent lava flows.
The lowlands of Venus are dominated by volcanic lava flows, which have many features similar to ones found on volcanoes on Earth or Mars.