Dr. John A. Grant, III joined the Smithsonian in the fall of 2000 as a Geologist at the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the National Air and Space Museum. He is a member of the Science Teams for the Mars Exploration Rovers Spirit and Opportunity, the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity, and the HiRISE camera on board the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. On Spirit and Opportunity he serves as a Science Operations Working Group Chair responsible for leading day-to-day science planning of the rovers, whereas on Curiosity he is a Long Term Planner focused more on achieving strategic goals for the mission. He is also a Co-Investigator on the High Resolution Camera (HiRISE) and is the Science Theme Lead for Landscape Evolution and Future Landing Sites.
Dr. Grant also serves as co-chair for the science community process for selecting the landing sites for the Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity Rovers and is currently co-leading the process for selecting the landing site for the Mars 2020 rover. He has been interested in Mars ever since reading Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles as a child.
Dr. Grant attended the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh and received his bachelor’s degree, magna cum laude, in geology in 1982 and went on to earn a master’s and doctorate in geology at the University of Rhode Island (1986) and Brown University (1990), respectively. His dissertation focused on the degradation of meteorite impact craters on Earth and Mars and remains interested in understanding processes responsible for shaping planetary landscapes.
After a two-year position at NASA Headquarters, where he served as Program Scientist for the Mars Global Surveyor and now postponed Sample Return missions, Dr. Grant then accepted his current position at the Smithsonian Institution. He is also lead in developing a ground-penetrating radar for possible future deployment on a Mars rover.
Dr. Grant also maintains a strong connection to the classroom and began as a lecturer at Brown University in 1990. Since then he has held several professorial posts at both Rhode Island College and SUNY College at Buffalo (New York), where he has served as Adjunct Associate Professor of Earth Science and Science Education since 2000. He gives numerous public talks and lectures both within the Museum and out in the community. He has authored or contributed to numerous articles in many industry publications, including Geomorphology and Science magazine.
Dr. Grant's other interests include gardening, biking, and collecting beer.