Laurie Leshin has helped send robots to Mars, overseen NASA’s largest science center, commanded research on human space exploration, and even has a piece of the solar system named after her.
The 48-year-old geochemist and space scientist’s next mission: leading Worcester Polytechnic Institute as the first woman president in its 149-year history.
“My favorite thing in the world is learning new things and meeting new people. It’s like candy to me,” said Leshin, who is currently a dean at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York.
A self-described “space nerd,” Leshin shares a birthday with astronaut Neil Armstrong, and is a member of the team that launched the Mars “Curiosity” rover mission. Full story for BostonGlobe.com subscribers.
Michael B. Farrell of the Globe staff contributed to this report. Matt Rocheleau can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more coverage of area colleges and universities, visit boston.com/yourcampus.