News Release

Two NASA scientists named AAAS 2021 Fellows

Grant and Award Announcement

NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Two NASA Scientists Named AAAS 2021 Fellows

image: At left, Eric Christian is a Senior Research Scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. At right, Carol Polanskey is a principal science systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. view more 

Credit: Credits: Left: NASA Right: Caltech

Two individuals with NASA affiliations have been named 2021 fellows by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in recognition of their scientifically and socially distinguished achievements in the scientific enterprise.

In November 2021, the AAAS Council elected members as Fellows of AAAS. Election as a Fellow honors members whose efforts on behalf of the advancement of science or its applications in service to society have distinguished them among their peers and colleagues.

Eric Christian from NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland was honored in the AAAS section on Astronomy, and Carol Polanskey of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California was honored in the AAAS section of Geology and Geography.

Eric Christian is a Senior Research Scientist and Associate Lab Chief of the Heliospheric Physics Laboratory in the Heliophysics Science Division. He is also the head of the Energetic Particle Laboratory at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland. He is the deputy principal investigator for the upcoming Interstellar Mapping and Acceleration Probe (IMAP) mission, project scientist for the Advanced Composition Explorer (ACE), and mission scientist for the Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX).

Dr. Christian’s scientific interests are the origin of energetic particles (solar energetic particles, energetic neutral atoms, galactic cosmic rays, and anomalous cosmic rays) and the design, construction, integration and test, and data analysis of particle detectors. Eric has also been active in NASA communications, outreach, and public affairs through his career.

Carol Polanskey is a principal science systems engineer at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, with 32 years of experience in science implementation for interplanetary orbital spacecraft during development and operations. She is the project scientist for the Psyche mission. Previous roles were science operations manager/Ceres planning lead for the Dawn mission, science office manager for the 2001 Mars Odyssey mission, technical manager for the Science Opportunity Analyzer (SOA) software development, and science coordinator and co-investigator for the magnetometer and dust detector on the Galileo mission. She has a B.S. in physics and astronomy from the Pennsylvania State University, an M.S. in geophysics and a Ph.D. in planetary science from Caltech.

AAAS noted that these honorees have gone above and beyond in their respective disciplines. They bring a broad diversity of perspectives, innovation, curiosity, and passion that will help sustain the scientific field today and into the future. Many of these individuals have broken barriers to achieve successes in their given disciplines.

AAAS is the world’s largest general scientific society and publisher of the Science family of journals, is announcing the election of a standout group of individuals across scientific disciplines to the newest class of AAAS Fellows, among the most distinct honors within the scientific community.

The full list of 2021 AAAS Fellows can be found here:

For more about AAAS, visit:

For a video interview with Eric Christian on Parker Solar Probe, visit:

For information about NASA and agency programs, visit:


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