Nicola “Nicky” Fox

Associate Administrator, NASA Science Mission Directorate

As the Associate Administrator (AA) for the Science Mission Directorate, Dr. Nicola Fox directs ~100 NASA missions to explore the secrets of the universe–missions that use the view from space to assess questions as practical as hurricane formation, as enticing as the prospect of lunar resources, as amazing as behavior in weightlessness, and as profound as the origin of the universe. She is responsible for fostering an inclusive, welcoming atmosphere and supporting a diverse team of space scientists and engineers around the country. As the AA, Dr. Fox creates a balanced portfolio of carefully chosen missions and research goals to enable a deep scientific understanding of Earth, other planets, the Sun, and the universe. These efforts lay the intellectual foundation for the robotic and human expeditions of the future, while meeting today’s needs for scientific information to address national concerns.

Dr. Fox joined NASA in 2018 as SMD’s Director of the Heliophysics Division, where she led a world-class team in understanding Earth’s most important and life-sustaining star. She oversaw NASA’s work to study key space phenomena and improve situational awareness of the very space our astronauts, satellites, and robotic missions travel through as they explore the solar system and beyond. Her portfolio also included NASA’s robust space weather research to help the U.S. government better predict space weather, which can interfere with radio communications, affect GPS accuracy, and even–when extreme–affect electrical grids on the ground.

Dr. Fox has authored numerous scientific articles and papers, in addition to delivering science presentations worldwide. She is known for her keen ability to make science accessible to a broad range of audiences, as well as her stellar leadership, creating a sense of purpose and belonging in her teams. In 2021 she was awarded the American Astronautical Society’s Carl Sagan Memorial Award for her demonstrated leadership in the field of heliophysics. In 2020 she was awarded NASA’s Outstanding Leadership Medal.

Prior to August 2018, Dr. Fox worked at the Applied Physics Lab at the Johns Hopkins University, where she was the chief scientist for heliophysics, as well as the project scientist for NASA’s Parker Solar Probe–humanity’s first mission to a star. Dr. Fox’s extensive project, program, and supervisory experience included serving as the Deputy Project Scientist for the Van Allen Probes and the operations scientist for the International Solar Terrestrial Physics program.

Dr. Fox graduated from The Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in London with a B.S. in Physics. She received an M.S. in Telematics and Satellite Communications from the University of Surrey. She then returned to Imperial College to complete a Ph.D. in Space and Atmospheric Physics.