"There's been no more exciting phase in my career than coming to the National Air and Space Museum...
Today, Dr. Ellen Stofan begins her first day as the John and Adrienne Mars Director at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. Her career has come full circle. Stofan interned in the Museum’s Center for Earth and Planetary Studies when she was just a freshman. To an aspiring planetary geologist, passionate about science and research, the Smithsonian was “this place you could come to that was comforting, enriching, and fun.”
It’s Stofan’s goal to inspire visitors just as she was. “They’ll see the Spirit of St. Louis, the Viking spacecraft, the Apollo capsule, and they’ll say, ‘You know what, I can do that!’ I want them to come here and just be inspired to be that next generation of explorers and innovators,” she said. “That’s what this place did for me.”
After interning at the Museum, Stofan went on to be an accomplished and respected leader in the aerospace community. She served as NASA’s chief scientist, developed plans to bring humans to Mars, and worked on science policy with President Barack Obama’s science advisor and the National Science and Technology Council. After more than 25 years of experience in the field, Stofan is ready to bring her passion for science to the Smithsonian.
“I love what I do—I love space, I love aviation,” Stofan said. “Trying to convey to the public why we explore, why we’re always trying to leave the ground and get up into the air and out into space, it’s something that I’m passionate about.”