From: "Kelly Moy" <>
Date: Thu, 23 Dec 2004 17:50:00 +0000
France Cordova is so cool. She knocked on the doors at CalTech to get her
Chief Scientist, NASA
France Cordova grew up in California, the oldest of 12 children in a
Mexican-American family. With so many siblings, France gained a serious
sense of responsibility. She was as serious about her studies as she was
about her family, earning top grades in school. France was named one of
California's 10 Outstanding Youth as a senior in high school.
After leaving high school, France went to Stanford University, where she
majored in English. On a college trip to work on an archaeological dig in
Mexico, France developed a new awareness of her heritage. Despite her
interests in literature and writing, France soon discovered a new
fascination - space science. After watching news coverage of the Apollo 11
moon landing and a documentary about cosmology, France went back to school
and eventually earned a Ph.D. in Physics from the California Institute of
Technology. After receiving her degree, France went to work at Los Alamos
National Labs in New Mexico, and later became a professor, then head of the
Astrophysics Department at Pennsylvania State University. In 1993, she was
named the Chief Scientist at NASA.
France is married and has two young children. She maintains her position as
a professor at Penn State, works full-time in Washington, D.C. at NASA
headquarters, and sits on a number of committees and organizations related
to space science. In 1994, she was named one of "America's 100 Brightest
Scientists Under 40" by Science Digest Magazine. She has received many
honors for her work, including a NASA Group Achievement Award.
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