Science Guest of Honor

Loretta McKibben


Loretta McKibben has worked in STEM E/PO as a volunteer and professional for over 40 years. She emphasizes the history of women in astronomy, physics, planetary sciences, and space exploration in her outreach efforts and educational writing. Her teaching experience includes classes in rocketry and space exploration for kids at several science museums; introducing children and adults to astronomy and the night sky at star parties and observatories; developing and leading workshops; and authoring educational materials and web pages. A NASA-JPL Solar System Ambassador since the program began in 1997, she talks to the public and K-12 classrooms on current planetary science and astronomy missions, and leads hands-on educational activities for kids.

Loretta has worked with some of the most interesting scientists on the planet as a scientific programmer, UNIX sysadmin, and computer support nerd, surviving in the mostly male, soft-money, grant-funded space-time continuum for four decades. She has worked on cutting-edge forecasting software at NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory (which won a Silver Medal from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce for the team); served as a member of two NASA Mars orbiter instrument teams at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory; and worked on numerous other projects in astronomy, astrophysics, physics, and geology. 

Loretta was the science guest of honor at MarsCon in 2010, “Femme Fatales and Dark Lords.” She’s been a science and tech panelist at three Worldcons, Westercon, Shore Leave, NASFiC, and many others. She moderated her first “Women and Space” panel at NASFiC in Phoenix (1988) with Jerry Pournelle, Larry Niven, and G. Harry Stine. The three men “had no idea why they were there,” according to Jerry. A friendly ruckus ensued, and a good time was had by all.






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