Lindy Elkins-Tanton portrait

Lindy Elkins-Tanton

Foundation and Regents Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration at ASU

Lindy Elkins-Tanton is a Foundation and Regents Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration. She is also the vice president of the ASU Interplanetary Initiative, and the Principal Investigator (PI) of the Psyche mission, selected in 2017 as the 14th in NASA’s Discovery program.

Her research includes theory, observation, and experiments concerning terrestrial planetary formation, magma oceans, and subsequent planetary evolution including magmatism and interactions between rocky planets and their atmospheres. She also promotes and participates in education initiatives, in particular, inquiry and exploration teaching methodologies, and leadership and team-building for scientists and engineers.

She has led four field expeditions in Siberia, as well as participated in fieldwork in the Sierra Nevada, the Cascades, Iceland, and the Faroe Islands.

Professor Elkins-Tanton received her bachelor's and master's degrees from MIT in 1987, and then spent eight years working in business, with five years spent writing business plans for young high-tech ventures. She then returned to MIT for a doctorate. She spent five years as a researcher at Brown University, followed by five years on MIT faculty, before accepting the directorship of the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism at the Carnegie Institution for Science. In 2014, she moved to the directorship at Arizona State University.

She serves on the Standing Review Board for the Europa mission, and served on the Mars panel of the Planetary Decadal Survey and on the Mars 2020 Rover Science Definition Team.

Professor Elkins-Tanton is a two-time National Academy of Sciences Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow and served on the National Academy of Sciences Decadal Survey Mars panel. In 2008 she was awarded a five-year National Science Foundation CAREER award, and in 2009 was named Outstanding MIT Faculty Undergraduate Research Mentor. In 2010 she was awarded the Explorers Club Lowell Thomas prize. The second edition of her six-book series "The Solar System," a reference series for libraries, was published in 2010 and the book "Earth," co-authored with Jeffrey Cohen, was published in 2017. Asteroid (8252) Elkins-Tanton was named for her. In 2013 she was named the Astor Fellow at Oxford University, in 2016 she was named a fellow of the American Geophysical Union, and in 2018 a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2020 the National Academy of Sciences awarded her the Arthur L. Day Prize and Lectureship, and in 2021 she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

Latest Planetary Radio Appearances

Portrait of a Scientist: A Conversation with Psyche mission leader Lindy Elkins-Tanton

Psyche asteroid mission principal investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton returns with her excellent new memoir, A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman.

Heavy Metal: An encounter with the Psyche spacecraft

Suit up for an up-close encounter with the Psyche spacecraft that will soon launch toward the asteroid belt.