Space Park Leicester in collaboration with the Institute for Space at the University of Leicester is proud to announce an upcoming Space Park Conversations event featuring Dr Ellen Stofan, Under Secretary for Science and Research at the Smithsonian Institution.

Dr Stofan’s talk, titled “Sustaining Earth from Space,” promises to provide invaluable insights into the intersection of space research and sustainability.

The event, taking place at Space Park Leicester on Thursday, 25 April, from 4pm to 5pm, will focus on current efforts to create a more sustainable planet and the indispensable role of space data in these endeavours.

Dr Stofan will highlight the ground-breaking conservation research conducted by Smithsonian scientists, which integrates ground-based observations with critical data obtained from space.

Professor of planetary plasma physics Emma Bunce OBE, Head of the Institute for Space said: “This event presents a unique opportunity for students and researchers alike to engage with Dr Stofan, a leading figure in the field of space science.

“Her expertise underscores the importance of interdisciplinary approaches in space research and provides valuable insights for aspiring scientists, particularly women, in this male-dominated field.”

As the Under Secretary for Science and Research at the Smithsonian Institute – the world’s largest museum and research complex in Washington DC – she oversees its science research centres and the National Air and Space Museum, National Museum of Natural History, and the National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute. The Smithsonian Libraries and Archives, Smithsonian Scholarly Press and Scientific Diving Program also report to Stofan.

Her focus is on the Smithsonian’s “Our Shared Future: Life on a Sustainable Planet” initiative and collective research, especially in areas of biodiversity, climate change, global health, sustainable communities and environmental justice.

Bleddyn Bowen, an expert in space policy and international relations in outer space at the University of Leicester’s Institute for Space, added: “We are thrilled to host Dr Stofan at Space Park Leicester and look forward to an enlightening discussion on sustaining Earth from space.

“Her expertise and insights will inspire our audience and contribute to the advancement of space research and technology.”

Before joining Smithsonian, Dr Stofan had more than 25 years’ experience in space-related organisations and a deep research background in planetary geology including serving as the Chief Scientist at NASA, where she played a pivotal role in guiding the agency’s strategic planning and programmes. Her expertise in planetary geology and her advocacy for space exploration have earned her numerous accolades, including the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.

Dr Stofan’s extensive experience includes guiding the development of a long-range plan to send humans to Mars during her tenure at NASA. She also played a key role in strategising NASA’s support for commercial activity in low Earth orbit as the agency transitions from the International Space Station to sending humans to the moon and Mars in the mid-2020s.

Attendees can expect to gain valuable career advice and participate in thought-provoking discussions on the future of space exploration. With a diverse audience expected to include PhD students, postgraduate students, and staff from various disciplines, the event promises to foster dialogue and collaboration among researchers, industry professionals, and the public.

Space Park Conversations is the free public seminar series of talks based at Space Park Leicester aimed at fostering dialogue and collaboration on topics related to space exploration and technology.

For more information about the event and to register, please search for Space Park Leicester’s page on Eventbrite or click here:

Space Park Leicester, located at the University of Leicester, serves as a hub for cutting-edge research and collaboration in space science and technology. With state-of-the-art facilities and a vibrant community of researchers and industry partners, Space Park Leicester is at the forefront of innovation in the space sector.

For more information about Space Park Leicester visit:

The Institute for Space’s serves as an important vehicle in realising the UK’s ambition to “grow as a science and technology superpower” bringing in the expertise and knowledge of colleagues across the University of Leicester, including space research from the arts, social sciences, humanities, and life sciences.

For more information about the Institute for Space visit: