Fran Bagenal, Ph.D.

Research Scientist, Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics

Dr. Fran Bagenal was born and grew up in England. She studied Physics and Geophysics at the University of Lancaster. In 1976, inspired by NASA’s missions to Mars and the prospect of the Voyager mission, she moved to the US for graduate study at MIT. Her 1981 PhD thesis involved analysis of data from the Voyager Plasma Science experiment in Jupiter’s giant magnetosphere. She spent 1982-1987 as a post-doctoral researcher in space physics at Imperial College, London. Voyager flybys of Uranus and Neptune brought her back to the US and she joined the faculty at the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1989. She was professor of Astrophysical and Planetary Sciences until 2015 when she chose to stop teaching and focus on NASA’s New Horizons and Juno missions. She remains a Research Scientist at the Laboratory of Atmospheric and Space Physics. 

In addition to the Voyager mission, Dr. Bagenal has been on the science teams of the Galileo mission to Jupiter and the Deep Space 1 mission to Comet Borrelly. She edited Jupiter: Planet, Satellites and Magnetosphere (Cambridge University Press, 2004). She’s on the plasma teams of the first two New Frontiers missions: the New Horizons mission that - after a 9.5-year flight - flew past Pluto on 14th July 2015 and Juno that went into orbit over the poles of Jupiter on 4th July 2016.

In 2021 she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. She took the honor as an opportunity to pay back to the community by co-chairing a study on Increasing Diversity and Inclusion in the Leadership of Competed Space Missions.

Fran poses with Jupiter puzzle