Laurie Leshin, PhD (MS '89, PhD '95), president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI), is lauded "for her barrier-breaking leadership at universities such as Worcester Polytechnic Institute, which has been recognized for both teaching and research excellence and essential strides in diversity, equity, and inclusion under her guidance as the first woman to serve as president; and for her accomplishments as a distinguished geochemist and space scientist."
When Leshin became WPI's 16th president in 2014, the first woman in that role, she had more than 20 years of experience as a leader in academia and government service, having served as dean of the School of Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, as deputy director of NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate, and as deputy director for Science and Technology and director of Science and Exploration at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
Through much of her administrative career, Leshin continued her science, including serving as a member of the Mars Science Laboratory Science Team that analyzed data collected by the Curiosity rover to find evidence of water on the surface of Mars. At WPI, she has focused on ways to address gender disparity in STEM, among other efforts.
Leshin is a recipient of NASA's Outstanding Leadership Medal, NASA's Distinguished Public Service Medal, and the Meteoritical Society's Nier Prize. The International Astronomical Union recognized her by naming an asteroid 4922 Leshin. She earned a BS in chemistry from Arizona State University and an MS and a PhD in geochemistry from Caltech.