NASA Names Dr. Steven J. Dick to be New Historian

Press Release From: NASA HQ
Posted: Friday, October 10, 2003

image NASA announced today Dr. Steven J. Dick is the new Director, History Office, and Chief Historian. He will assume his duties at NASA on November 3.

"We are delighted to have Steve join the NASA team," said Michael O'Brien, NASA's Assistant Administrator, Office of External Relations. "With his diverse background, scientific accomplishments and thorough understanding of NASA, he will be an invaluable asset as the agency's historian," O'Brien said.

Dick has worked as an astronomer and historian of science at the U. S. Naval Observatory since 1979. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in astrophysics (1971), Master of Arts and Ph.D. (1977) in history and philosophy of science from Indiana University. He fills the position that has been vacant since Dr. Roger D. Launius departed in July 2002 to become historian of the National Air and Space Museum.

He is a well-known expert in the field of astrobiology and its cultural implications. He spent three years at the Naval Observatory's Southern Hemisphere station in New Zealand. Dick served as the first Historian of the Naval Observatory, and has most recently been the Acting Chief of its Nautical Almanac Office.

Dick served on the panel to examine the societal implications of possible life in the Mars rock. He received the NASA Group Achievement Award, "For initiating the new NASA multidisciplinary program in astrobiology, including the definition of the field of astrobiology, the formulation and initial establishment of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, and the development of a Roadmap to guide future NASA investments in astrobiology."

He is on the Editorial Board of several journals, including the Journal for the History of Astronomy, and is an associate editor of the International Journal of Astrobiology. He was Chairman of the Historical Astronomy Division of the American Astronomical Society (1993-1994) and President of the History of Astronomy Commission of the International Astronomical Union (1997-2000). He is President-elect of the Philosophical Society of Washington.

Dick has authored more than 100 publications, including: Plurality of Worlds: The Origins of the Extraterrestrial Life Debate from Democritus to Kant (Cambridge University Press, 1982); The Biological Universe: The Twentieth Century Extraterrestrial Life Debate and the Limits of Science (Cambridge University Press, 1996); and Life on Other Worlds (1998), the latter translated into four languages. He was also editor of Many Worlds: The New Universe, Extraterrestrial Life and the Theological Implications (2000).

His history of the Naval Observatory, Sky and Ocean Joined: The U. S. Naval Observatory, 1830-2000 (Cambridge University Press, 2002), received the John Lyman Award of the North American Society for Oceanic History for best book in 2002 in Science & Technology. It also won the Naval Observatory's Captain James Melville Gilliss Award for extraordinary dedication and exemplary service. Dick is also the author (with James Strick) of the forthcoming volume: The Living Universe: NASA and the Development of Astrobiology (Rutgers University Press).

Dick and his wife Terry live in Herndon, Va. They are the parents of two sons, one a Scripps Institute of Oceanography graduate student, and another who is a student at the University of Virginia.

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