Dr. Thomas Strikwerda

Dr. Thomas Strikwerda – Thursday, October 15th

Program Area Manager, National Security Space, Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University

Dr. Thomas Strikwerda grew up in Grand Rapids and was an active teenage member of the local Astronomy Association, where he contributed to the construction of the James C. Veen Observatory. He worked as a presenter in the original Roger B. Chaffee Planetarium while pursuing his undergraduate degree at Calvin College (Physics, 1971). He went on to obtain both an M.A. and Ph.D. in astronomy (1977) from the University of Virginia, followed by a research appointment to Virginia Tech where he carried out early studies in autonomous spacecraft guidance via star sightings.

Tom began a long and distinguished career with Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory in 1981. He supervised the Mission Design, Guidance and Control Group that works closely with NASA and other agencies in the development and operation of scientific space missions. He has been involved in a number of high profile projects, including the Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous (NEAR), which surveyed and landed on Eros (2001), the MESSENGER Mission to Mercury, and, most recently, New Horizons and its historic July, 2015 encounter with the dwarf planet Pluto. Additionally, mathematical procedures he developed for planetary tracking have been used on the Hubble Space Telescope.

In recent years, Tom has taken on increasing administrative duties at Johns Hopkins. Currently he is the Program Area Manager for the National Security Space Mission Area. In this capacity he supervises project managers who lead programs of importance to our national defense and monitors contracts, schedules, and quality of performance.

He and his wife Donna reside in a suburb of Washington, D.C. When not busy with their respective professional pursuits, they are active bicyclers and opera lovers. Tom is also president of the Maryland Ornithological Society.