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August 2, 2017

National fraternity honors Stofan for scientific work

Ellen Stofan (left) of The Plains receives Member of Distinction Award from Pi Beta Phi President Paula Shepherd in St. Louis.
Ellen Stofan, who lives near The Plains, has received Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women’s prestigious Member of Distinction Award.

The award honors a Pi Beta Phi member who has distinguished herself and who has achieved success and recognition in her profession. The fraternity presents the award every other year at its national convention.

After her undergraduate studies in geology at the College of William & Mary, Dr. Stofan earned a master’s degree and doctorate from Brown University. She held several roles at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, including chief scientist of the New Millennium Program, experiment scientist for the Shuttle Imaging Radar-C and deputy project Scientist for the Magellan mission to Venus.

Over the years, Dr. Stofan’s research has focused on the geology of Venus, Mars, Earth and Saturn’s moon Titan. In 2000, she became the vice president of Proxemy Research, and from 2013 to 2016, she was NASA’s chief scientist, serving as the principal advisor to the administrator of the agency’s science-related strategic planning and programs.

Dr. Stofan has been published many times throughout her career and has authored two books. She has won several awards, most notably the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, the highest honor bestowed by the United States on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

She remains very engaged with her alma mater, the College of William & Mary. Both Dr. Stofan and her husband Tim Dunn have volunteered and served the college on various boards, and they frequently visit campus. The couple’s children are also graduates of the college.

“Ellen’s hard work and commitment to her research as well as her prominent role in a STEM field is paving the way for young women today,” Pi Beta Phi President Paula Shepherd said. “We admire her dedication and relentlessness to never stop learning. Ellen embodies Pi Phi’s core value of personal and intellectual growth, and we are proud to call her a sister and member of distinction.”

Dr. Stofan received the award at the convention June 23-27 in St. Louis.

Founded in 1867 at Monmouth College in Illinois, Pi Beta Phi has 204 collegiate chapters and nearly 300 alumnae clubs worldwide. The fraternity promotes friendship, develops women of intellect and integrity, cultivates leadership potential and enriches the lives of members and their communities. The fraternity believes in the power of reading and through its philanthropy, Read > Lead > Achieve, promotes a lifelong love of reading that can unlock true potential.
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