Bethany Ehlmann Head Shot

Bethany Ehlmann

Board of Directors of The Planetary Society; Professor of Planetary Science, California Institute of Technology; Jet Propulsion Laboratory Research Scientist; Associate Director, Keck Institute for Space Studies at Caltech

Bethany Ehlmann joined The Planetary Society’s Board of Directors in 2018. She is a professor of planetary science at Caltech and research scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. In 2018, she published Dr. E’s Super Stellar Solar System with National Geographic.

Her research focuses on the mineralogy and chemistry of planetary surfaces, remote sensing techniques and instruments, astrobiology, and science policy and outreach. Her primary focus is unraveling Mars' environmental history: she is a member of the science teams for the Mars Exploration Rovers (Spirit and Opportunity), the CRISM imaging spectrometer on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover, and the upcoming Mars 2020 rover. She is also on the Dawn orbiter team exploring the dwarf planet Ceres, the EMIT space station-based imaging spectrometer to explore dust source regions, and is working to propose mission concepts for Europa, Venus, the Mars moons, asteroids and Earth.

Bethany is a 2013 National Geographic Emerging Explorer, a former Mineralogical Society of America Distinguished Lecturer, a recipient of the American Geophysical Union’s Macelwane medal, the American Astronomical Society Planetary Science Division Urey prize, and COSPAR’s Zeldovich medal, as well as NASA Group Achievement Awards. Previously, she was a European Union Marie Curie Fellow at the Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale, Orsay, France.

Originally from Tallahassee, FL, she earned her Ph.D. and master’s in geological sciences as a National Science Foundation graduate fellow at Brown University, earned masters degrees from the University of Oxford in Environmental Change and Management and Geography as a Rhodes Scholar, and received her undergraduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis.

Latest Planetary Radio Appearances

What’s Next for Mars Exploration?

Planetary Society board member and Caltech/JPL research scientist Bethany Ehlmann discusses how the Mars 2020 mission will search for life on the Red Planet.