Key Staff

Science Directorate (Code S)

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Michael D. Bicay, Director of Science

Michael D. Bicay, Director of ScienceDr. Michael D. Bicay, a native of suburban Minneapolis, earned B.S. degrees in Physics and Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire in 1981. He earned M.S. (1983) and Ph.D. (1987) degrees in Applied Physics from Stanford University. The research for his Ph.D. dissertation was carried out during a three-year residency at the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center's Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. His research interests included large-scale structure in the universe, the atomic gas content of spiral galaxies, and the infrared properties of galaxies and clusters of galaxies. Upon returning to the mainland US, he accepted a National Research Council fellowship at the California Institute of Technology's Infrared Processing and Analysis Center (IPAC), the primary NASA science center for the InfraRed Astronomical Satellite (and subsequent space-borne infrared observatories). In 1989, he transferred to a position on the IPAC science staff, where he conducted research on the distribution of thermal infrared and non-thermal radio emission within spiral galaxies, and on the propagation of cosmic rays within galaxy disks. One year later, he accepted a visiting appointment as a Senior Scientist in the Office of Space Science at NASA Headquarters. Nominally a two-year position, he ultimately spent the next six years as Program Scientist for various infrared, submillimeter and radio astronomy missions and programs. While in Washington, he also served as an astrophysics consultant to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum. After returning to Pasadena in 1996, he joined the science staff of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Space and Earth Sciences Directorate, and was a member of the science staff in the Project Office for the Spitzer Space Telescope, the final element in NASA's Great Observatories program. His planning and advocacy were essential in establishing and managing the innovative Spitzer Legacy Science Program. Dr. Bicay transferred to the Spitzer Science Center (SSC) at Caltech in early 1998, where he served as the primary liaison between the SSC and the external scientific community. In 2000, he was named SSC Assistant Director for Community and Public Affairs. In September 2004, Dr. Bicay accepted a Senior Executive Service (federal government) appointment as the Division Chief for Space Science and Astrobiology at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. In October 2005, he became Director of Science at Ames, leading a Directorate of 400+ staff (including 160 civil servants) conducting research in space, Earth and biological sciences.


Jaya Bajpayee, Deputy Director for Science

Jaya Bajpayee, Deputy Director for Science Ms. Jaya Bajpayee has been leading the Science Directorate since January 2017. Having worked at Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), Glen Research Center (GRC), and NASA Headquarters (HQ), Jaya brings broad management experience in science, technology and engineering as well as a strong record of project leadership in science, NASA instruments and mission development. Her collaborative, proactive style makes her a good fit with the rest of the Ames leadership team.

Starting her career as a Range Safety Officer at NASA GSFC’s Wallops Flight Facility, Bajpayee transitioned to project management at Goddard’s Greenbelt facility. After delivering the Geosynchronous Operational Environment Satellite (GOES)-N Solar X-Ray Imager within cost and schedule, she moved on to positions of greater responsibility as the GOES-N Assistant Integration and Test Manager, GOES-R Observatory Manager and Glory Deputy Project Formulation Manager. In 2008, Bajpayee became a Program Executive at NASA HQ Astrophysics Division, where she managed 14 operating missions and established NASA’s Physics of the Cosmos Program. In 2015, she served as Acting Deputy Director of Space Flight Systems Directorate at GRC, providing day-to-day management of nearly 70 projects in formulation and development for Science, Human Exploration and Operations and Space Technology Mission Directorates. In 2016, she served as a Special Assistant to NASA’s Mission Support Directorate at HQ, where she established a process to update the Agency’s Baseline Service Levels.

Bajpayee received her B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Pittsburgh, her M.S. in space systems engineering from Delft Technical University in the Netherlands, and is a graduate of the Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program. She takes every opportunity to inspire students to pursue STEM careers. Since her childhood in India, she has witnessed first hand how education improves the standard of living, achieves gender parity and reduces racial, cultural and religious barriers.. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, photography and spending time with her nieces and nephews.


Steve B. Howell, Division Chief, Space Science and Astrobiology Division

Steve B. Howell, Division Chief, Space Science and Astrobiology Division Steve B. Howell is currently the Head of the Space Science and Astrobiology Division for the NASA Ames Research Center. He previously was the project scientist for NASA's premier exoplanet finding missions: Kepler and K2. Steve received his PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Amsterdam and has worked in many aspects of astronomy including pioneering the use of charge-coupled imaging devices in astronomy, building new technology instruments for ground and space-based telescopes, and developing and running university research, education, and public outreach programs. Dr. Howell is author or co-author of over 800 scientific publications, numerous popular and technical articles, and has authored and edited eight technical books on stellar astrophysics and astronomical instrumentation. Combining the latest scientific discoveries about exoplanets, fundamental physics principles, and modern food chemistry has led Howell, and collaborator former white house chef Bill Yosses, to develop a series of educational and highly entertaining scientific public outreach presentations on the physics of food. These have been used in many teaching arenas including at the Harvard cooking school. Howell has edited and written for two science fiction books related to exoplanet science and is highly involved with informal and formal scientific education for kids to adults. He lives in the San Francisco Bay area and enjoys scientific challenges, the great outdoors, vegetarian gourmet cooking, and playing blues music. And yes, He still considers Pluto a planet.



Mark L. Fonda, Deputy Chief, Space Sciences and Astrobiology Division

Mark L. Fonda, Deputy Chief, Space Sciences and Astrobiology Division Mark L. Fonda is Deputy Chief of the Space Science and Astrobiology Division at NASA Ames Research Center. He earned his B.S. in Biology from the University of California -- Davis in 1979, and his MBA in Management from Golden Gate University in 1985. He started working at Ames in 1981 for General Electric in the Life Science Division and became a civil service employee in 1989 as a Physical Scientist in the Exobiology Branch of the Space Science Division. While working for General Electric, Mark participated in all aspects of the Space Shuttle Flight Experiments Program including: science definition, mission operations, test and integration and project management for Space Shuttle Flight Projects (SL-3, SLS1 and SLJ). Since becoming a NASA employee, he has lead many project teams including development of the Gas-Grain Space Station Facility for International Space Station and a variety of Space Sciences planetary instrument/facility definition and development laboratory breadboard concepts. In 1999-2001 he was Project Manager for a series of Astrobiology Missions to study the Leonids meteor showers. In 2003, he was named the Space Science Division Deputy Chief and served as the Acting Division Chief for Space Science Division in 2004. He is now the Deputy Division Chief for Space Sciences and Astrobiology, assisting in leading a Division of 55+ Scientific and Administrative Staff (including another 40+ contractor and grantee staff) conducting both basic and applied research in Space Sciences. In addition to his managerial responsibilities, Mark currently assists NASA Headquarters in the technical management of the Planetary Protection Research and Analysis Program.




J. Ryan Spackman, Division Chief, Earth Science

J. Ryan Spackman, Division Chief, Earth Science J. Ryan Spackman is the Earth Science Division Chief at NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley where he directs an organization of scientists and technologists that conduct Earth system science research. Prior to joining NASA Ames in 2017, Ryan coordinated interagency airborne science investigations that examined weather and climate phenomena. He served in interdisciplinary research and program management positions at the NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL) in Boulder, Colorado for 12 years. From 2011 to 2017, he was a program manager for Science and Technology Corporation (STC) in the Physical Sciences Division at ESRL and led integrated observing studies including the NOAA El Niño Rapid Response Field Campaign. He also conducted aircraft measurements of atmospheric aerosols in the Chemical Sciences Division at ESRL for the University of Colorado at Boulder from 2005 to 2011 participating in numerous NASA, NOAA, DOE, and NSF climate and air quality field campaigns. Ryan earned his Ph.D. in atmospheric science in 2004 and completed postdoctoral research in the Harvard University Atmospheric Research Project. He graduated with an Sc.B. degree in chemistry from Brown University in 1995.





Matt Fladeland, Deputy Division Chief, Earth Science (Acting)

Matt Fladeland, Deputy Division Chief, Earth Science (Acting) Matt Fladeland manages the NASA Ames Research Center Earth Science Division, Airborne Science Program Office, which provides engineering support across the NASA science aircraft fleet, in addition to interfacing with the science community to collect and validate requirements for airborne science. Matt graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College with a bachelors degree in Biology, and Yale University with a Masters Degree in Forest Science. Following graduate work Matt was selected as a Presidential Management Fellow and accepted a position at NASA HQ where he supported the Applied Science and Airborne Science Programs. After transferring to Ames Research Center in 2002, Matt worked on applications of the CASA model for land managers before focusing on the use of aircraft measurements for deriving carbon fluxes from ecosystems. Matt has worked with many researchers inside and outside NASA to pioneer the use of unmanned aircraft for earth science including measurements of volcanic emissions and greenhouse gases. Through Matt's leadership, NASA Ames has acquired one of the largest civilian fleets of civilian unmanned aircraft for science and aeronautics research. Matts recent efforts involve applications of high altitude long endurance aircraft for science. Matt is also currently serving as Acting Deputy Division Chief in the Earth Science Division.





Sidney Sun, Division Chief, Space Biosciences Division

Sid Sun, Chief, Space Biosciences DivisionSidney Sun has been leading the Space Biosciences Division at NASA Ames since February 2011. This position is an outgrowth of his experience leading research and development efforts in a multitude of areas, including space biology, space technology, information systems, and spaceflight systems development. Following his lifelong dream that started as a child watching every Apollo moon landing, Mr. Sun is committed to space exploration, eager to see how humans and other living systems can prosper as they travel great distances into space.

Mr. Sun has a B.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from Case Western Reserve, and an M.S. degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of California at Berkeley. He started his career at NASA in 1988, working on early concepts for a biology laboratory for the International Space Station. Space biology has been the central theme to his career at NASA Ames, including assignments as project manager for the Life Sciences Glovebox, Specimen Chamber Service Unit, and Lab-Scale Controlled Ecological Life Support System. His first management assignment came in 1998, when he was Staff Assistant to the Deputy Director of NASA Ames. From 2000 to 2006, he served as Deputy Chief of the Life Sciences Division, the organization that would eventually become the Space Biosciences Division. More recently, he's served as: Project Manager for ISS Research, Deputy Project Manager of Constellation Data Systems, and Project Manager for Lunar Lander Collaborations.

As a Certified Professional Coach (certification from New Ventures West), Mr. Sun helps others become stronger leaders. By blending a supportive one-on-one approach with an indepth knowledge of the challenges facing leaders today, he helps agency personnel to define and achieve professional and personal goals. Within his own career, he's received two individual leadership awards from NASA Ames, as well as awards from the NASA Human Spaceflight Program, the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the Federal Asian Pacific American Council. He's also been cited on numerous NASA Group Achievement Awards.


A. Chris Maese, Deputy Division Chief, Space Biosciences

A. Chris Maese, Deputy Division Chief, Space BiosciencesA. Chris Maese has been the Deputy Division Chief for the Space Biosciences Division (SC) since March 2015. This organization has a research space biology component, an engineering component involved in developing life support systems, and a payloads component with responsibility for managing ISS animal payloads. Concurrently, he is also the Ames Research Center (ARC) Liaison to the Human Research Program (HRP) at Johnson Space Center. He has responsibility for managing the ARC staff matrixed to support the various elements within this Program. He was assigned in October 2009. Mr. Maese was on detail to two different organizations. He split his time between Information Technology Projects and as an Experiment Support Manager for the VO2max experiment performed on ISS. From November 2006 through August 2008, he served as Deputy Science Project Manager for the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) Program. The SOFIA Program is a NASA mission, in collaboration with the German Space Agency, to conduct scientific investigations utilizing a 2.5 meter (8 foot) diameter infrared telescope mounted in a modified Boeing 747SP aircraft. Previous to this assignment, A. Christopher Maese was the Deputy of Operations for the Space Station Biological Research Project and concurrently, he had overall responsibility for the integration of operations for payload activities within the Life Sciences Division (SL). In this capacity, he was involved in the design and development of space station hardware as well as the integration and utilization of this hardware onboard station. Mr. Maese has been with Ames since 1980. His association with NASA began when he was a graduate student at San Jose State University. He was awarded a NASA/San Jose State University grant to study bone histomorphometry. While doing this research, he also taught human physiology at San Jose State University and for the West Valley-Mission Community College District. In 1988 he joined Lockheed Engineering and Sciences Company as a Crew Training Coordinator for the Spacelab Life Sciences-1, International Microgravity Laboratory-1, and Spacelab-Japan missions. In 1989, Maese was hired as the NASA ARC Crew Training Manager for all Fundamental Biology, both plant and animal, payloads developed by the Space Life Sciences Payloads Office. In 1992, Mr. Maese was also assigned to the position of Ames Payload Manager for the International Microgravity Laboratory-2 mission. In 1994, he was assigned to the position of Ames Neurolab Payload Manager. He was responsible for integrating the hardware and science supporting 15 investigations, involving U.S. and international investigators, conducted on this life sciences mission dedicated to the study of neurobiology and launched in April 1998. In addition to his involvement in the dedicated life sciences Spacelab missions, he was responsible for crew training and operations on payloads developed for Spacelab middeck and SPACEHAB. Mr. Maese has received numerous awards for his involvement with the Life Sciences Flight Experiments Program and was awarded the Silver Snoopy Award by the Astronaut Office in appreciation for his work to ensure mission success in the Space Transportation System. In 2012, he was recognized for outstanding leadership in developing systems and performing research and enabling longer human missions in space and was awarded NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal. Mr. Maese received a B.S. in biology from Santa Clara University, and an M.A. in biology, emphasis in physiology, from San Jose State University.