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Scientist scores another first as WPI’s new chief

WPI named Laurie Leshin its first female president.
WPI named Laurie Leshin its first female president.

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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.

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