Thomas Zurbuchen is a professor of Space Science and Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan. From 2009 to 2015, he served as the UM Associate Dean of Entrepreneurial Programs in the College of Engineering and from 2012 to 2015 he was the Senior Counselor for Entrepreneurial Education. Professor Zurbuchen was the Founding Director of the University of Michigan Center for Entrepreneurship. He serves on the boards of three small companies and non-profits. In 2013, Zurbuchen was appointed by Michigan’s Governor Snyder to the Northern Michigan University’s Board of Trustees. He has been at the University of Michigan for over 20 years.
Zurbuchen, who holds a PhD in Astrophysics from the University of Bern, Switzerland, received numerous awards, including the prestigious U.S. Presidential Early Career Award, which represents the highest honor by the U.S. government for early career scientists and engineers. Zurbuchen, a specialist in the robotic exploration of space, served as team leader for the development of NASA’s Fast Imaging Plasma Spectrometer, an instrument that was part of the MESSENGER spacecraft which orbited Mercury from 2011 to 2015. His team is actively involved in the development of a new space instrument and is responsible for five such instruments currently in flight.
Zurbuchen also has a long record of service as a Chair and Member of committees advising NASA, NSF, and the DOL. He served on several committees of the National Academies, mostly focused on Space Research and Innovation. He has also testified before congress on research topics, educational issues, and export control.