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Dr. Akshata Krishnamurthy

Systems Engineer and Scientist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

Dr. Krishnamurthy has spent the last decade gaining multidisciplinary expertise in space systems and made significant contributions to several NASA-funded space missions. She brings a wide breadth of expertise to the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in flight systems engineering, small satellites, instrument calibration, performance modeling, science data processing for exoplanet detection, and mission concept formulation.  Prior to joining JPL, she completed her Ph.D. in Space Systems Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). In her current position at JPL, she leads project verification and validation evidence management for the NASA-ISRO Synthetic Aperture Radar (NISAR) mission. She is also the phase lead for nominal science (day-in-the-life) mission scenario testing, and the NISAR resource management lead. In addition to these responsibilities, she is the Principal Investigator on a Strategic University Research Partnership proposal that aims to develop a systematic framework for model-based verification of science instrumentation. She is also Co-Investigator for the NASA Astrophysics Science Small Satellite Studies Program to design a constellation of small satellites to search for transiting Earth-like planets orbiting the nearest, brightest Sun-like stars.

Prior to this, Dr. Krishnamurthy was the Science Data Analysis Lead on the Arcsecond Space Telescope Enabling Research in Astrophysics (ASTERIA) mission. She also served as Co-Investigator for the NASA grant award “Strategic Research and Technology Development Fund” to search for exoplanets around our Sun-like neighboring stars Alpha Centauri A and B with ASTERIA data, and was lead author on the Astronomical Journal publication detailing the results of this work.  For her Ph.D. thesis, Dr. Krishnamurthy worked on instrument systematics calibration and performance improvement for two space telescope missions: Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) and ASTERIA. Both TESS and ASTERIA successfully launched while she was finishing her Ph.D. Dr. Krishnamurthy’s science data processing software later contributed to the detection of the super-Earth 55 Cancri e, making ASTERIA the smallest satellite to ever detect an exoplanet. For her key role in the instrument characterization and science data analysis for ASTERIA, Dr. Krishnamurthy was quoted by several major science journals in their press releases. She has also co-authored several exoplanet discovery publications in leading journals including Nature.

Dr. Krishnamurthy has won numerous awards and accolades for her work, including the NASA Honor Group Achievement Award for ingenious use of a CubeSat to achieve key scientific investigations, the Emerging Space Leader Award and 2017 Luigi G. Napolitano Award from the International Astronautical Federation (IAF), the MIT Graduate Women of Excellence Award and Dr. Robbin Chapman Excellence Through Adversity Award, also from MIT. She has been awarded many fellowships throughout her educational career, including the Schlumberger Faculty for the Future Fellowship five times, the Zonta Amelia Earhart Fellowship and the SPIE Optics and Photonics Fellowship.

Outside of work hours, Dr. Krishnamurthy serves as a peer reviewer for journal publications such as Universe, Aerospace, and Remote Sensing. She also serves as a global judge for the annual NASA Space Apps Competition. She has delivered invited talks including at the Apollo 50+50 event showcasing ‘This Generation’s Space Program’ at MIT. Previously, Dr. Krishnamurthy served as MIT Sandbox Fund Fellow, Mentor and Reviewer for Early-Stage Technology Startups, and was appointed by MIT President L. Rafael Reif to the MIT Presidential Advisory Cabinet (PAC).


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