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2001 News Releases

New JPL Director Announces Lab Reorganization
May 2, 2001

       A reorganization designed to position the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for a new generation of challenges in space exploration has been announced by incoming Director Dr. Charles Elachi.

       Among the changes are appointment of a new chief scientist, creation of a new senior executive position to oversee designing and building of spacecraft, addition of a chief technologist position, and realignment of offices responsible for JPL's missions in solar system exploration, Earth sciences, and astronomy and physics.

       "These steps are intended to simplify JPL's structure and position us to remain the leader in robotic space exploration and meet the challenges of the next century," said Elachi, who became JPL director May 1.

       Dr. Thomas A. Prince will join JPL as the Laboratory's chief scientist in the Director's Office. A professor of astronomy at the California Institute of Technology, Prince is the NASA mission scientist for the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) project. He succeeds Dr. Moustafa Chahine, who will remain at JPL to conduct research.

       Thomas R. Gavin has been appointed to the new position of JPL associate director for flight projects and mission success. Gavin, who oversaw spacecraft development on such major JPL missions as Galileo and Cassini, will be in charge of JPL's development of flight systems.

       Also newly created is a position of JPL chief technologist. It will be held on an additional duty basis by Dr. Barbara A. Wilson, a physicist who has played numerous technology leadership roles since she joined JPL in 1988.

       In the JPL Director's Office, Prince, Gavin and Wilson will join Deputy Director Larry N. Dumas, Associate Director for Institutional Affairs Kirk M. Dawson, and Associate Director and Chief Financial Officer Fred C. McNutt, all of whom will continue in their current positions. Dumas has announced that he intends to retire when a current nationwide search results in the selection of a new JPL deputy director.

       In addition to the Director's Office positions, four offices have been created whose leaders will serve on JPL's Executive Council.

       Dr. Firouz M. Naderi will lead the Solar System Exploration Programs Directorate, which will be in charge of developing concepts for JPL's solar system exploration missions. Naderi will also continue to hold his current position leading the Mars Exploration Program Office.

       The newly created Planetary Flight Projects Directorate, which will design, build and fly planetary spacecraft, will be headed by Chris P. Jones.

       Larry L. Simmons will direct a new Astronomy and Physics Directorate. This organization will oversee JPL's spacecraft and instruments that study the influence of the Sun within our solar system or that look out beyond the solar system.

       A new Earth Science and Technology Directorate will be headed by Dr. Diane L. Evans, a geologist who played key science roles on the Shuttle Imaging Radar series. In addition to Earth sciences missions, this organization will conduct JPL's work for non-NASA sponsors including other federal agencies.

       The JPL organization responsible for telecommunications and NASA's Deep Space Network has been renamed the Interplanetary Network and Information Systems Directorate. It will continue to be headed by Gael F. Squibb. JPL's Institutional Computing and Information Systems office will become part of this directorate.

       JPL's financial management and human resources organizations will be consolidated into a new Business Operations and Human Resources Directorate, headed by Chief Financial Officer Fred McNutt. Susan D. Henry will be McNutt's deputy and will continue to serve on JPL's Executive Council.

       Also continuing on the Executive Council will be Dr. William J. Weber III, who leads the Engineering and Science Directorate; Harry K. Detweiler, head of the Office of Safety and Mission Success; and Caltech General Counsel Harry Yohalem. Two external relations executives who previously served as ex officio members of the Executive Council will now become full members -- Blaine Baggett, executive manager of the Office of Communications and Education, and Dr. Richard P. O'Toole, manager of the Office of Legislative and International Affairs.

       Elachi, a scientist with a background in imaging radar and other remote-sensing technologies, succeeds Dr. Edward C. Stone. Stone is returning to JPL's parent institution, Caltech, to continue teaching and conducting research after leading JPL for 10 years.

       JPL is a federally funded research and development center managed for NASA by Caltech. The JPL director also serves as a vice president of Caltech.

Contact: Franklin O'Donnell (818) 354-5011
JPL Media Relations Office

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