Adriana Ocampo Uria

Science Program Manager at NASA Headquarters Science Mission Directorate

Region:          Northern America; Latin America 

Field:              Space Science; Space Exploration


Profile:     Dr. Adriana C. Ocampo Uria is currently a Science Program Manager at NASA Headquarters Science Mission Directorate (SMD), in the Planetary Science Division responsible for the New Frontiers Program. As the New Frontier Lead Program Executive, she is responsible for the Juno mission to Jupiter, the New Horizons mission to Pluto, and the asteroid sample return OSIRIS-REX. She also is the Lead Venus Scientist responsible for NASA’s collaboration in ESA’s Venus Express mission, JAXA’s Venus Climate Orbit, and the Venus Exploration Analysis Group (VEXAG), which develops strategic plans and assessments for the exploration of this planet.

Ocampo was born in Barranquilla, Colombia and raised in Argentina. She completed her Bachelor of Science degree at California State University Los Angeles in Geology with an emphasis in Planetary Science, and completed her Master of Science in Geology at California State University Northridge with a thesis on the Chicxulub impact crater in Mexico. She has a doctorate from Vrije Universiteit in The Netherlands.

Using satellite images, Ocampo was the first to recognize that a ring of sinkholes or "cenotes" found in the Yucatan peninsula was related to the buried Chicxulub impact crater. The Chicxulub impact caused the extinction of more than 50% of the Earth species, including the dinosaurs, 65 million years ago.

Ocampo received the Woman of the Year Award in Science from the Comisión Femenil in Los Angeles in 1992. In 2002, Ocampo was named one of the 50 Most Important Women in Science by the science magazine Discover. For her technical and scientific service to the New Horizons mission, Pluto asteroid 177120 Ocampo Uría - discovered by American astronomer Marc Buie at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in 2003 - was named after Adriana Ocampo.