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NASA Space Grant Sverdrup Visiting Scientist Program

Steve Squyres and the Mars Rover “Spirit”
Steve Squyres and the Mars Rover “Spirit”

The General Leif J. Sverdrup Visiting Scientist Program was established in 1990 by Johan Sverdrup of St. Louis, Missouri, in memory of his father, Major General Leif J. Sverdrup (Augsburg, 1918).  General Sverdrup was the founder of Sverdrup and Parcel, Inc. (now the Sverdrup Corp.), an international architectural and engineering firm.  He graduated from Augsburg College in 1918 and was honored in 1958 as a Distinguished Alumnus.

This program provides an annual forum where Augsburg and the wider scientific community can expand their knowledge on scientific topics of national significance, and provides an opportunity for Augsburg students and faculty to interact on a personal basis with scientists of national stature.

Sverdrup program events include a public evening lecture, an all-campus convocation, informal talks with faculty; special events for undergraduates including a special luncheon and the Society of Physics Students Banquet; and public outreach programs at an area high school or middle school.

For more information on the next Sverdrup Visiting Scientist Lecture, please contact Ben Stottrup, Professor and Department Chair in the Physics Department, at 612-330-1035, or visit:

Past Sverdrup Lecturers

1991 Dr. Thomas Potemra – John Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory “The Arctic Exploration of Fridtjof Nansen”
1992 Dr. Margaret Galland Kivelson – Department of Earth and Space Sciences, UCLA, “Space Exploration of the Giant Planets”
1993 Dr. Harry C. Holloway – NASA, “Space Exploration: Maintaining Health and Human Performance on the Mars Trip and Beyond”
1994 Dr. Walter Munk –Professor of Geophysics, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, “The Changing Climate”
1995 Dr. Lucy McFadden – University of California, and Visiting Professor of Astronomy, University of Maryland, “The Collision of Comet Shoemaker -Levy 9 with Jupiter
1996 Dr. Neil DeGrasse Tyson – Hayden Planetarium, New York City and Princeton University, “Death by Black Hole”
1997 Dr. James G. Anderson – Philip S. Weld Professor of Atmospheric Chemistry, Harvard University, “Ozone, Climate and the Edge of Science”
1998 Dr. Marcia McNutt – Chief Executive Officer, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (currently Director of the U.S. Geological Survey), “Beyond Jules Verne:  Ocean Exploration for the 21st Century”
1999 Dr. John Freeman, Jr. – Department of Space Physics and Astronomy, Rice University, “Storms in Space”
2000 Dr. David Bishop – Bell Laboratories, Lucent Technologies, “Mighty Machines the Size of Mites:  The Science and Technology of Micromachines”
2001 Dr. Christopher McKay – Planetary Scientist, NASA Ames Research Center, “From Antarctica to Mars:  The Search for Life in Cold and Dry Places”
2002 Dr. Maria Zuber – E.A. Griswold Professor of Geophysics and Planetary Sciences, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, “Expedition to an Asteroid:  The Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR) Mission”
2003 The Physics Force, Department of Physics, University of Minnesota:  “Demonstrations of Physical Phenomena”
2004 Dr. Noel Hinners – Senior Research Associate at the Laboratory for Atmospheric & Space Physics, University of Colorado, and former director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, “The Exploration of Mars: An Ongoing Saga of Fact & Fiction, Dreams & Aspirations
2005 John A. Turner, Principal Scientist, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, Co, ‘The sustainable hydrogen economy”
2006 Thomas H. Jordan, Director, Southern California Earthquake Center and Professor of Earth Science, University of Southern California, “Civilization as a Geosystem:  A Scientific Perspective on Global Change”
2007 Fran Bagenal, Professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder,  “Exploring the Giant Magnetosphere of Jupiter”
2008 Steve Squyres, Goldwin Smith Professor of Astronomy, Cornell University, “Roving Mars:  Spirit, Opportunity, and the Exploration of the Red Planet,  and “Exploration of the Solar System:  Past, Present, and Future”
2009 Stephen Schneider, Professor for Interdisciplinary Environmental Studies and Biological Sciences, and Senior Fellow at Stanford University, “Global Warming:  Is the Science Settled Enough for Politics?” and  “What Can Individuals do to Deal With Climate Change When They Aren’t Authorized to Negotiate With the Chinese?”
2010 Mark Rea, Director, Lighting Research Center, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, “The Surprisingly Important Role of Light and Dark on Human Health,” and  “Sunrise and Sunset:  Why it Will be Hard to Colonize Other Planets”
2011 Barbara A. Baird, Horace White Professor and Chair of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Cornell University,  “How Cells Sense and Respond to Their Environment—Zooming in to Understand and Intervene,” and  “Making a Contribution in a Complicated World—Individual Passion and Collaborative Power”
2012 Brian J. Anderson, MESSENGER Deputy Project Scientist and Principal Professional Staff, The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, “MESSENGER at Mercury:  “Solving the Riddles of the Innermost Planet in Our Solar System,” and  “Exploration as a Moral Imperative”
2013 David Weitz, Professor of Physics and Applied Physics, Harvard University, “Physics of cooking”, and “Dripping, Jetting, Drops, and Wetting: The Magic of Microfluidics”
2014 Bonnie L. Bassler, Professor in Molecular Biology, Princeton University, “Tiny Conspiracies: Cell to Cell Communication in Bacteria” and “Manipulating Quorum Sensing to Control Bacterial Pathogenecity”
2015 Anne R. Douglass, Senior Scientist with the Atmospheric Chemistry and Dynamics Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD
2016 Christopher W. Macosko, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Director of the Industrial Partnership for Research in Interfacial and Materials Engineering, University of Minnesota, “Graphene: A Material from Flatland”
2017 Hope Jahren, Tenured Professor in Paleobiology, University of Hawaii at Mānoa in Honolulu, “Twenty Things That Everyone Should Know About Global Change”
2018 Vicki H. Grassian, Distinguished Professor in Chemistry/Biochemistry, University of California- San Diego, “What is in the Air We Breathe?”
2019 Dr. Pamela Ronald, Distinguished Professor of Plant Pathology, University of California-Davis, “Serving up Science: Plant Genetics and the Future of Food”
2020 Dr. Pamela Ronald, Distinguished Professor of Plant Pathology, University of California-Davis, “Serving up Science: Plant Genetics and the Future of Food”
2021 Joseph S. Francisco, Professor of Earth and Environmental Science/Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania, “Beautiful Clouds Droplets and their Wonderful Role in Modulating Chemistry in the Atmosphere”
2022 Dr. Jennifer L. Ross, Professor/Department Chair of Physics, Syracuse University, “The Future is Alive!”
2023 Dr. Sarah L. Keller, Professor of Chemistry, University of Washington-Seattle, “Membranes of Hungry Yeast are Tiny Living Thermostats”, “Stabilizing Fragile Membranes on the Early Earth”