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Ved Chirayath

Stanford University

Aeronautics & Astronautics



Wells Fargo Point Scholar

I grew up in Southern California with a passion for NASA’s mission and space exploration. In 2003, a sophomore in high school, I modified a consumer digital camera and telescope to successfully detect an extra-solar planet, 150 light years away and roughly twice the size of Jupiter. Since then, my research interests have relied on the intersection of multiple disciplines including aeronautics, astrophysics, earth sciences, engineering, and optics. Presently, I direct the NASA Laboratory for Advanced Sensing (LAS) as a tenured civil servant at NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, CA. My research focuses on inventing, developing, and testing next-generation sensing technologies for NASA's Science Mission Directorate and the United States Government. My investigations aim to extend our capabilities for studying and protecting life on Earth as well as aid in the search for life elsewhere in the universe. I lead a multi-disciplinary team developing new instrumentation for underwater, airborne, and spaceborne remote sensing and communications. I validate instrumentation through scientific field campaigns around the world, often in extreme environments that serve as analogs for planetary science and ocean worlds applications. Through NASA’s Technology Transfer Program, I work to ensure our NASA innovations, developed for exploration and discovery, are broadly available to the public. My team and I also develop machine learning algorithms to process big data on NASA’s Pleaides supercomputing facility. I am the inventor of FluidCam, fluid lensing, MiDAR, NeMO-Net, and a plasma-actuated drone. In 2020, I received the American Geophysical Union’s Charles S. Falkenberg Award for “contributions to the quality of life, economic opportunities, and stewardship of the planet through the use of Earth science information and to the public awareness of the importance of understanding our planet.” In 2019, my MiDAR invention was awarded a NASA Invention of the Year, chosen from among thousands of new technologies within the agency, for its novelty and potential broad applications to advancing the state-of-the-art in aerospace, medicine, geology, oceanography, human spaceflight, and manufacturing. In 2017, I received the NASA Early Career Award in recognition of “significant advances in aquatic remote sensing technology.” In 2016, I received the NASA Equal Employment Opportunity Medal in recognition of leading the LGBT group, community service and outreach, and organizing the first participation by NASA in the San Francisco LGBT Pride Parade.

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