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Penelope Boston
NASA Astrobiology Institute


Dr. Penny Boston is the Director of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute (NAI), at NASA Ames, Moffett Field. She leads the scientific activities of the Institute’s member teams and all operational aspects of the organization. Her appointment was effective May 31, 2016.

Penny leads the NAI in fulfilling its mission to perform, support, and catalyze collaborative interdisciplinary astrobiology research; train the next generation of astrobiologists; provide scientific and technical leadership for astrobiology space mission investigations; and develop new information technology approaches for collaborations among widely distributed investigators.

Prior to joining NASA, Penny, in 2002, founded and directed the Cave and Karst Studies Program at New Mexico Tech, Socorro, New Mexico, where she also served as a professor and led their Earth and environmental sciences department as chair. She also served from 2002 to 2016 as associate director of the National Cave and Karst Research Institute, a congressionally mandated institute in Carlsbad, New Mexico. She holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Science degrees and a Ph.D. from the University of Colorado Boulder.

Additional information about Dr. Boston:

  • National Geographic Live! – Life Beyond Earth, Part 4: Penelope Boston

  • Alien Worlds Beneath Our Feet: Dr. Penelope Boston on Caves