About Dr. Jeff

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about-jg-photo1 Biography: Jeff Goldstein, Ph.D.

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Dr. Jeff Goldstein is Center Director for the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education, is a nationally recognized science educator, and as an astrophysicist has conducted research in planetary atmospheres.


Center Director

As Center Director, Dr. Goldstein is responsible for the creation and delivery of national initiatives addressing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, with a focus on earth and space. These include programs for schools, families, and the public; professional development for grade K-12 educators; exhibitions for museums and science centers; and distance learning programs. Initiatives are meant to provide a window on the nature of science and the lives of modern-day explorers, with special emphasis on not just what is known about Earth and space but how it has come to be known. This approach reveals the very personal means by which researchers ask questions of the world, empower themselves to create a pathway to an answer, and hopefully bear witness to something wholly new to the human race. The embraced educational paradigm is inspire … then educate. A central objective is to help continue America’s legacy as a leader on the frontiers of science and technology well into the 21st century by helping to ensure a science literate public and a next generation of scientists and engineers—both of which are of national importance in an age of high technology.

The Center is committed to ensuring that all its science education and public outreach initiatives truly reflect the research experience, and are accurate in both scientific content and process. To best serve this need the Center maintains an in-house space science research group. Staff researchers split their time between research and national education and public outreach.


The Center has a Cooperative Research Agreement in Planetary Astronomy with the Laboratory for Extraterrestrial Physics at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. Center researchers are on teams that design, build, and use ultra-high resolution infrared spectrometers, mated to some of the largest telescopes on Earth, to study the composition, temperature structure, and global winds in the atmospheres of other planets. These efforts support current, recent, and anticipated NASA planetary flight missions.

Nationally Recognized Science Educator

Dr. Goldstein has received numerous awards for education and public outreach, including the Astronomical Society of the Pacific’s 2005 Klumpke-Roberts Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Public Understanding and Appreciation of Astronomy. Prior winners include Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, and Walter Sullivan of the New York Times. Dr. Goldstein also received the 1995 Barry M. Goldwater Educator of the Year Award from the National Capital Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics for “an individual of national stature who has supported the advancement of science and technology in commerce and education at all levels.” Prior winners include the Hon. Senator John McCain; Dr. Michael Griffin, former NASA Administrator; Dr. John Klineberg, former Director of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center; and the Hon. Senator Barry M. Goldwater.



An Ambassador for Science and Science Education


Dr. Goldstein has developed a large array of presentations on earth and space science, the nature and history of exploration, science education, and the joys of learning. He is routinely asked to give keynote, dinner, and featured presentations at educator conferences (see, e.g., NJSC 2008 and NSTA 2001and at other conferences and large venues for special groups. He has conducted over 100 educator workshops, and over 700 classroom presentations at early elementary through college levels. He also routinely conducts family and public programs for typically 300-500 attendees at venues like the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, and museums and science centers across the nation. Read attendee comments.


Media and Broadcast

Dr. Goldstein has extensive experience with broadcast media, providing interviews as an expert in both space science and science education, and serving as on-air talent. Some examples:

• Recent video interview with the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation’s Kauffman

Conversations, October 2008, for opening of the Voyage model Solar System in Kansas City.

From the Foundation website—Kauffman Conversations highlight interviews with guests whose ideas and insights are changing society. We are privileged to talk to these thought leaders, innovators, experts and authors and share their observations about their work, lives, and fields of expertise.


• Recent radio interview on Live with Jay, October 15, 2008, for opening of the Voyage

model Solar System in Kansas City, MO.

NOTE: Scroll to “Space Management in Downtown KC” to play clip


• National Public Radio News, interview October 18, 2001, Voyage opening on National

Mall in Washington, DC.

• Dr. Goldstein served as on-air talent for Challenger Center’s electronic field trip on the

Solar System—The Theory of WOW—in partnership with Fairfax Network, and

broadcast live to 1.6 million elementary and middle school students nationally in 1997.



Creator and Director of National Science Education Programs


Dr. Goldstein oversees the Voyage National Program, which began with the development and installation of a permanent scale model of the Solar System on the National Mall in Washington, DC. The exhibition is now permanently installing in communities nation-wide, and will be available internationally in 2009. Photo-albums of Voyage in Washington, DC, Kansas City, Houston, and Corpus Christi are on the program’s Facebook page. Dr. Goldstein led the inter-organizational Team for Voyage on the Mall, and leads the exhibition replication program. He is also the author of the exhibition’s storyboards, the exhibition’s Outdoor Exploration Guide, and many of the grade K-12 lessons.

Journey through the Universe

Dr. Goldstein oversees Journey through the Universe—a national science education initiative that engages entire communities—students, teachers, families, and the public. Programming in each community includes: grade K-12 lessons in the earth and space sciences, professional development programs for educators, visits by scientists and engineers to thousands of students—one classroom at a time, and programs designed for family learning and for the public. It is a Learning Community Model for science education. The Center is also committed to assessment of all programming.

A community uses the content and programming resources available to create a customized Journey through the Universe program that reflects their strategic needs in STEM education; can be delivered systemically across an entire school district; and is designed to be sustainable. Programming is delivered by a National Team of engineers and scientists, and master science educators, from the Center and research and education organizations across the nation.

Since 1999, Journey programs have engaged 196,700 grade K-12 students in 1,554 schools, through 4,657 classroom programs by 114 researchers from 38 research organizations (download list as PDF); provided professional development for 3,700 grade K-12 educators; and provided family and public programs for 34,400 parents, students, and teachers. Visit the Program Milestones and Community Achievements pages.


MESSENGER Educator Fellowship Program

Dr. Goldstein oversees the Center’s activities in support of NASA’s MESSENGER spacecraft mission to Mercury. As a member organization of the MESSENGER Education and Public Outreach Team, the Center recruits, trains, and maintains a corps of 30 of some of the best science educators in the nation—the MESSENGER Fellows—which in turn train 3,000 teachers a year (100 per year per Fellow) on grade K-12 lessons addressing Solar System science and engineering. As of May 1, 2009, 12,470 grade K-12 teachers have been trained at 539 workshops and briefings by the Fellows. Dr. Goldstein created the Fellowship program as a highly leveraged means of reaching potentially 1,000,000 students through training for 27,000 teachers over the mission lifetime.

Family Learning Programs

In 1991, Dr. Goldstein created the Learning is a Family Experience (LiFE) program at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum along with Louisa Jaggar, currently a freelance writer for the Washington Post. The LIFE program was designed as a school field trip for family learning, and won the 1991 Smithsonian Exhibition Award for Best School Program.

In 1993, LiFE formally became the Family Science Night program at the Museum. The evening events are held after hours so that hundreds of students, parents, and teachers from area schools may have the Museum to themselves, and 50% of the evenings are reserved for under-served communities. Attendees explore galleries, experience the universe through IMAX® films, and hear a presentation by a space scientist. The presentation is the program’s centerpiece, providing a very personal view of exploration on the frontier and the human stories behind the machines in the galleries that changed the world.

Dr. Goldstein oversees the Family Science Night program, is one of the Center’s three principal presenters (see attendee comments), and has conducted extensive program assessment. Since 1993, 131 evening programs have been held for 44,730 attendees from 177 schools, corresponding to an attendance of 340 per program. In 2010, the Family Science Night program will be expanded to the Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center at Washington Dulles International  Airport. In 1997, the program went national as the family component of the Center’s Journey through the Universe initiative. Fully 50% of these family audiences—both adults and students—state they have never attended a school field trip designed for families (see Figure 2 on this page.) It is a program approach that is rarely used, and provides schools the opportunity to engage parents in the education of their children.


Planetary Research

Dr. Goldstein’s planetary science research includes the development of techniques for the measurement of global winds on other planets using large telescopes on Earth. He developed computer models for the circulation of planetary atmospheres (models of global winds; see recent publication), oversaw the development of software to allow telescopes to track a position on a planet at high precision, and built ultra-stable CO2 laser systems for infrared heterodyne spectrometers. The laser systems enabled these spectrometers to measure gentle breezes of 2 mph (1 meter/sec) on planets tens of millions of miles away.

His research has produced the first direct measurement of the global winds above the clouds on Venus, the first measurement of the global winds on Mars, and allowed determination of the magnitude and direction of winds in the atmosphere of Saturn’s largest moon Titan—which was important information for NASA’s Cassini mission to Saturn. These comparative planetary studies lead to a better understanding of the physics and chemistry that govern atmospheric phenomena in general, and provide insightful clues to atmospheric phenomena here on Earth.



Miscellaneous—Star Spangled Banner

Dr. Goldstein was part of a team that helped the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History assess the condition of the Star Spangled Banner which flew over Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. The team, led by Dr. John Hillman of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, used a prototype Mars infrared camera to identify contaminants and deterioration in the flag in advance of the Museum’s conservation and preservation initiative, and developed storyboards and programs describing the technique for the public.



Grants and Contracts

As Principal Investigator and Lead Contractor, Dr. Goldstein has been the recipient of numerous grants and contracts for both national science education programs ($6.7 M) and scientific research ($1.1 M). Funders included: NASA Headquarters’ Offices of Space Science, Earth Science, and Space Flight; NASA Headquarters Minority University Research and Education Programs Office; NASA Goddard Space Flight Center; Carnegie Institution of Washington; Lockheed Martin Corp.; District of Columbia Public Schools; Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation; City of Corpus Christi; Space Center Houston; National Space Club; Space Telescope Science Institute; and Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Studies Program.


He has been a Co-Investigator and Collaborator on numerous other awards.



Professional History


Dr. Goldstein became Director of the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education

in June 2005.

1996 to 2005

On the senior staff at Challenger Center for Space Science Education, a 501(c)(3) educational non-profit overseeing an international network of 50 Challenger Learning Centers, and formed by the families of the astronauts lost in the Challenger accident. Dr. Goldstein departed Challenger Center in 2005 as Executive VP for Space Science Education and Research.

1989 to 1996

Astrophysicist in the Laboratory for Astrophysics at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, departing as Acting Chairman in 1996.




Dr. Goldstein received his B.A. in physics from Queens College, City University of New York.

Dr. Goldstein received his M.S. (1987) and Ph.D. (1989) in astrophysics from the University of Pennsylvania.

Ph.D. Thesis: Absolute Wind Velocities in the Lower Thermosphere of Venus

Using Infrared Heterodyne Spectroscopy.

He received a NASA Graduate Student Researcher Fellowship to conduct his Ph.D. thesis research at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, and on graduation received one of two 1990 Sigma Xi Outstanding Ph.D. Thesis Awards from the University of Pennsylvania.

After receiving his Ph.D., Dr. Goldstein was awarded a National Academy of Sciences / National Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship at NASA Goddard. He turned it down to help establish the Lab for Astrophysics at the National Air and Space Museum—the most visited Museum in the world—to fulfill a personal commitment to both research AND the education of students, families, teachers, and the public. While at the Museum, he established a Cooperative Agreement with NASA for Comparative Planetary Research, and became a Visiting Researcher in the Laboratory for Extraterrestrial Physics, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.

He is also very proud to have attended the Bronx High School of Science, and to have worked with the gifted disabled for the New York State Department of Vocational Rehabilitation.



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