Mars is a rock lover's paradise and NASA geologist John Grant is searching for clues in the rocks for telltale signs of life in the red planet's past.
Dr. John A. Grant, III joined the Smithsonian in the fall of 2000 as a Geologist at the Center for Earth and Planetary Studies at the National Air and Space Museum. He has been a member of the Science Team for the Mars Exploration Rovers since 2002 and is one of six Science Operations Working Group Chairs responsible for leading day-to-day science planning of the rovers which have been operating for more than five years on Mars. Dr. Grant also co-chaired the science community process for selecting the landing sites for the Spirit and Opportunity Rovers and is currently co-leading the process for selecting the landing site for the 2011 Mars Science Laboratory rover. He has been interested in Mars ever since reading Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles as a child.
Dr. Grant attended the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh and received his bachelor's degree, magna cum laude, in geology in 1982 and went on to earn a master's and doctorate in geology at the University of Rhode Island (1986) and Brown University (1990), respectively. His dissertation focused on the degradation of meteorite impact craters on Earth and Mars and remains interested in understanding processes responsible for shaping planetary landscapes.
After a two-year position at NASA Headquarters, where he served as Program Scientist for the Mars Global Surveyor and now postponed Sample Return missions, Dr. Grant then accepted his current position at the Smithsonian Institution. Since 2001, he has also served as a Co-Investigator on the High Resolution Camera (HiRISE), which is to be flown on the 2005 Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and is currently developing a ground-penetrating radar for possible future deployment on a Mars rover.
Dr. Grant also maintains a strong connection to the classroom and began as a lecturer at Brown University in 1990. Since then he has held several professorial posts at both Rhode Island College and SUNY College at Buffalo (New York), where he has served as Adjunct Associate Professor of Earth Science and Science Education since 2000. He has authored or contributed to numerous articles in many industry publications, including NASA's Geomorphology and Science magazine.
Dr. Grant's other interests include gardening, biking, ice hockey, and collecting beer.