Professional of the Year - Education/Space Physics

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Ralph L. McNutt Jr.

Title: Physicist, Principal Professional Staff
Industry: Education
Type of Organization: University
Major Product/Service: Higher education
Expertise: Dr. McNutt specializes in space physics. He works on NASA missions as part of a science team. Currently, he serves as a Co-Investigator and Project Scientist with Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry, and Ranging (MESSENGER). Dr. McNutt is also a Co-Investigator with Integrated Science Investigation of the Sun (ISIS) – Solar Probe Plus (Institutional Co-I for the EPI-Lo Instrument), Co-Investigator on the New Horizons mission (Principal Investigator for the PEPSSI instrument) and Co-Investigator with Voyager PLS and LECP instruments. He is a member of the Ion Neutral Mass Spectrometer Team with Cassini Orbiter spacecraft.
Geographic Area of Distribution: International
Affiliations: Member, International Academy of Astronautics; Fellow, The British Interplanetary Society; Associate Fellow, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; Member, American Astronomical Society; Division for Planetary Sciences; American Geophysical Union; Sigma Xi; The Planetary Society; American Nuclear Society
University/Degree: B.S., Physics, Summa Cum Laude, Texas A&M University, 1975; Ph.D., Space Physics, M.I.T., 1980
Work History: Previously, Dr. McNutt served as a Principal Investigator for NASA "Vision Mission" concept (interstellar probe), Principal Investigator for NASA Supporting Research and Technology (SR&T) grant on interaction of the solar wind and very local interstellar medium and for modeling of Neptune’s magnetosphere, Principal Investigator, Phase I and II studies of Interstellar Probe architecture-NASA Institute for Advanced Concepts (NIAC), JHU/APL Instrument Scientist, Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) X-Ray and Gamma-Ray Spectrometer (XGRS) Facility Instrument, Study Lead JHU/APL Pre-Phase A study of a solar probe spacecraft and Principal Investigator with NASA Solar System Exploration Division Planetary Instrument Definition and Development Program (PIDDP) grant for the development of a compact energetic particle detector. Dr. McNutt was also a Principal Investigator for effort on outer planet radioisotope electric propulsion (unsolicited effort – NASA Glenn Research Center). He worked on physics of the magnetospheres of the outer planets, physics of the outer heliosphere including solar wind dynamics and properties of the very-low frequency (VLF) radiation, Pluto’s atmosphere, pulsars, physics of high-current electrons beams, the physics of active experiments in the mesosphere/thermosphere (artificial aurora) and the solar neutrino problem. Dr. McNutt served as an Associate Editor of Geophysical Research Letters from 1994 to 1996. He was also the Deputy Project Scientist, Nuclear Electric Propulsion Space Test Program (NEPSTP; DoD/SDIO).
Honors & Awards: National Finalist in the competition for the 1987-1988 class of White House Fellows; 11 NASA Group Achievement Awards: Cassini Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer Team, 16 Apr 2009; MESSENGER Mission Team, 2 May 2008; New Horizons Spacecraft Development Team, 8 Feb 2007; Voyager Interstellar Mission Team, 27 Apr 2006; Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous Shoemaker Mission Team, 2002; NEAR Project Team, 1998; Cassini Program, Ion and Neutral Mass Spectrometer Team, 1998; Sun Earth Connection 2000 Roadmap Team; 2000; Voyager Science, 1990; Voyager Uranus Interstellar Mission, 1986; Voyager Project, 1981. "Best Paper" award for presentation at 10th International Workshop on Combustion and Propulsion, In-Space Propulsion, Lerici, Italy, September, 2003
Published Works: Co-author, 26 articles; 150+ professional and popular talks including press conferences and live interviews