Dr. Rosaly M. C. Lopes is a Senior Research Scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Editor-in-Chief for the planetary science journal Icarus. Dr. Lopes was born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where she grew up by the famous Ipanema Beach. She moved to London, England, to study Astronomy at the University of London (University College), from where she graduated in 1978. For her doctoral studies, she specialized in planetary geology and volcanology and completed her Ph. D. in Planetary Science in 1986. Her major research interests are in planetary and terrestrial geology and volcanology. During her Ph.D. she traveled extensively to active volcanoes, particularly Mount Etna in Sicily, and became a member of the U.K.'s Volcanic Eruption Surveillance Team. Dr. Lopes joined JPL as National Research Council Fellow in 1989 and, in 1991, became a JPL employee and a member of the Galileo Flight Project, a mission to Jupiter. She was responsible for observations of Jupiter's volcanic moon Io from 1996 to 2001, using Galileo's Near-infrared Mapping Spectrometer. During this exciting period of her career, she discovered 71 active volcanoes on Io, for which she was honored in the 2006 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records as the discoverer of the most active volcanoes anywhere.
Dr. Lopes worked on the Cassini mission to Saturn from 2002 until 2018, with the role of Investigation Scientist on the Cassini Titan Radar Mapper Team. She is currently studying data acquired by Cassini, in particular, the geology and potential habitability of Saturn's largest moon, Titan as a Principal Investigator in NASA’s Astrobiology Institute, leading an international team.
Dr. Lopes has taken many leadership roles in the scientific community. She chairs the Outer Planets Task Group of the International Astronomical Union's Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature, and is therefore responsible for overseeing the naming of features on the outer planets and satellites. She served as elected Chair of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society 2012-2013, the world's largest organization for professional planetary scientists. Currently, she serves as President of the American Geophysical Union’s Planetary Science Section and is a member of the Space Studies Board of the US National Academies. At JPL, she is the current Chair of the Senior Research Scientists Council and was manager of the Planetary Science Section from 2013-2018.
Dr. Lopes has written 135 peer-reviewed scientific publications and published eight books, "The Volcano Adventure Guide" (Cambridge University Press, 2005; Portuguese translation 2008), "Volcanic Worlds: Exploring the Solar System Volcanoes" (Praxis-Springer, 2004; co-edited by Tracy Gregg), "Io After Galileo" (Praxis-Springer, 2007, co-edited by John Spencer), "Alien Volcanoes" (John Hopkins Press, 2008, co-authored by Michael Carroll), "Volcanoes: A Beginner's Guide" (Oneworld Publishing Co., UK, 2011, also a book on tape), "Modeling Volcanic Processes" (Cambridge University Press, 2013, co-edited with S. Fagents and T. Gregg), "Alien Seas" (Praxis, 2013, co-edited with Michael Carroll) and “Antarctica: Earth’s Own Ice World” (Springer, 2018, with Michael Carroll). She was honored to have Sally Ride write the Foreword for "Volcanic Worlds", the first planetary science book to have all its chapters written by female scientists, and to have Arthur C. Clarke and James Cameron write the Forewords for, respectively, "Alien Volcanoes" and "Alien Seas".
In addition to her science work, she is a strong supporter of education, diversity, and outreach, nationally and internationally. She is a guest investigator at the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais (INPE) in Brazil and frequently lectures in her native country. She has given numerous public lectures in the US and abroad, on every continent including Antarctica. She has been active in the media, giving hundreds of interviews, and has been featured on over twenty TV documentaries and shows in the US alone, including for National Geographic, Discovery, Science Channel, PBS, The Weather Channel and History channel.