Monday, September 18, 2023
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Convocation Archive 2014-2022
Convocation 2023 Speaker
Caltech's annual convocation ceremony will be held on Monday, September 18, 2023, at 10:00 a.m. in Beckman Auditorium. Convocation is the Institute's official and formal welcome for all incoming undergraduate students and graduate students.
We invite all members of the community—new and returning students, staff, faculty, and postdocs to come together to celebrate the start of the academic year and to join the Institute's leaders in welcoming them to Caltech. The event will start at 10 a.m. with all new students processing into Beckman Auditorium from the south end of Beckman Mall. Current faculty, staff, students, and postdocs are asked to please join the event by 9:50 a.m., taking their seats inside the auditorium so they may "welcome" the arrival of the processing students into the space.
This year's program, hosted by Vice President for Student Affairs Kevin M. Gilmartin, will include greetings from President Thomas F. Rosenbaum and a keynote address by JPL Director and Caltech Vice President Laurie Leshin (MS '89, PhD '95).
A community reception will immediately follow the event on Beckman Mall.
Joy of Discovery
Dr. Laurie Leshin
Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Dr. Laurie Leshin, director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory since May 2022, is a distinguished geochemist and space scientist with extensive leadership experience in academia and government, including senior NASA positions. Leshin is the first woman to serve as JPL director, a role that also includes serving as Vice President at Caltech, which manages JPL for NASA. Leshin, a Caltech distinguished alumna, is also a Bren Professor of Geochemistry and Planetary Science at Caltech and will continue as co-investigator for two instruments on NASA's Mars Curiosity rover. Leshin holds a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Arizona State University, and master's and doctoral degrees in geochemistry from Caltech.
Leshin was president of Worcester Polytechnic Institute from 2014 to 2022 and previously served as Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute School of Science dean. At NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center from 2005 to 2008, she served as director of science, then deputy director for science and technology, leading strategy, planning, and implementation of more than 50 Earth and space flight projects. In 2010, Leshin became deputy associate administrator of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, overseeing future human spaceflight.
Her numerous honors include NASA's Outstanding Leadership Medal and Distinguished Public Service Medal, and the Meteoritical Society's Nier Prize for outstanding research by a scientist under the age of 35. The International Astronomical Union named asteroid 4922 Leshin to honor her planetary science contributions. Leshin advised President George W. Bush on space policy, and Barack Obama appointed her to the Smithsonian Institution's National Air and Space Museum advisory board.