WASHINGTON — Laurie Leshin has been named the new deputy associate administrator of the Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters, effective in January.

Leshin previously served as the deputy center director for science and technology at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. She has led the formulation of strategy and the start of new missions since 2008 as Goddard’s senior scientist, while providing extensive scientific guidance to lunar architecture and other human spaceflight planning activities.

“I am delighted that Laurie will be joining us as my deputy, and I look forward to working closely with her,” said Doug Cooke, associate administrator for NASA’s Exploration Systems Mission Directorate. “She has worked with Exploration in the past and has a great track record. I think her experience and skills will be invaluable as we move forward.”

Leshin joined NASA in August 2005 as the director of Goddard’s Sciences and Exploration Directorate. She came to the agency from Arizona State University, where she was The Dee and John Whiteman Dean Distinguished Professor of Geological Sciences and director of the Center for Meteorite Studies.

Through her research, Leshin sought to decipher the record of water in objects in our solar system. A primary part of the research involved using meteorites from Mars to assess the history of water and the potential for life on the Red Planet. She has been on science teams for several NASA missions, including the Mars Polar Lander and the upcoming Mars Science Laboratory.

Earlier this year, Leshin also led the NASA Innovation and Technology Study Group, a team of 15 that made recommendations on how NASA could increase focus on innovative activities and technologies needed to advance the agency’s mission. She earned a bachelor of science degree in chemistry at Arizona State University in 1987 and a doctorate in geochemistry from the California Institute of Technology in 1994.

Prior to coming to NASA, Leshin received the agency’s Distinguished Public Service Medal, the highest award for non-NASA personnel. The International Astronomical Union has recognized her contributions to planetary science with the naming of asteroid 4922 Leshin. http://www.nasa.gov/exploration