JPL is proud of its long record of mutually beneficial partnerships with universities and continually seeks to work with faculty and the next generation of scientists and engineers to ensure JPL's continuing successful contribution to NASA's missions. JPL hosts a variety of collaborators from all parts of academia. JPL values our relationships with the external research community. We view our academic collaborators as a critical part of our community. We are committed to providing an enriched and rewarding experience during their visits to the Laboratory.
This page will help guide you through the variety of programs and processes for those of you seeking to host or to join JPL as a visiting scholar. Below is a list of supported programs.
JPL Visiting Researcher
The purpose of the JPL Visiting Researcher[*] program is to enable collaborations between the Laboratory and key members from the external research community (i.e. faculty members, faculty research associates, tenured researchers at Research Centers and Laboratories), where the honorary title of Visiting Researcher is warranted. The intent is to strengthen and advance areas of research that are of particular interest to JPL through the exchange of ideas, research methods, and technical expertise. For these collaborations, a formal written appointment letter is executed. This program operates under the direction of the Chief Scientist who gives final approval of appointments, establishes selection criteria, and provides general guidance for effective operation.
Distinguished Visiting Scientist
The Distinguished Visiting Scientist Program was established to promote interchange between senior researchers worldwide and JPL scientists and engineers. Recognized authorities in their fields are recruited to interact with JPL personnel as consultants or collaborators or to assist the Director or Chief Scientist on matters of policy. The intent of the program is to strengthen and advance areas of research that are of particular interest to JPL through the exchange of ideas, research methods, and technical expertise. This program operates under the direction of the Chief Scientist who gives final approval of appointments, establishes selection criteria, and provides general guidance for effective operation. JPLers wishing to host a DVS can refer to JPL Rules DocID 58739 "Distinguished Visiting Scientist Program"[*] for additional information.
JPL Visiting Postdoctoral Scholar
The JPL Visiting Postdoctoral Scholar[*] program was established to enable the hosting of postdoctoral candidates with access to funding opportunities from non-NASA institutions, universities, or foreign governments, (i.e. Fulbright Fellowships, Swiss Science Foundation). The purpose of the program is to strengthen and advance areas of research that are of strategic interest to JPL through the exchange of ideas, research methods, and technical expertise. However, as JPL does not accept unsolicited research requests, the collaboration should be in response to an existing postdoctoral research opportunity at JPL, or via a request from the JPL host/advisor.
As part of their fellowship, students are partnered with JPL scientists or engineers, who serve as the students' mentors. Students complete designated projects outlined by their mentors, gaining educational experience in their fields of study while also contributing to NASA and JPL missions and science. Students will also have the opportunity to participate in a number of enrichment activities, including tours, lectures and career advisement, arranged by the JPL Education Office
JPL Joint Faculty Appointments
The JPL Executive Council and cognizant JPL “Director for” approve job offers for Joint-Faculty Appointments. The appointments are typically for current faculty members of universities proximal to JPL. The JPL Director determines level of funding, and the period of time joint-faculty appointees are funded. Appointments are selected by the Chief Scientist and/or Chief Technologist, managed by the cognizant Director For, and administered by the Office of Research and Development. Appointments are typically made for two years with subsequent yearly renewals as directed by JPL Director and/or the cognizant University Provost or other appropriate University signatory.
JPL Visiting Student Research Program
The JPL Visiting Student Research Program, or JVSRP, is administered by the JPL Education Office. This program offers research opportunities to students who have a compatible research interest with NASA/JPL and have secured funding from third-party sponsors who are not associated with NASA or JPL funding sources.
Other Student Internships
JPL hosts a variety year-round and summer internships across all disciplines. For more information on these programs navigate to the JPL Education Office or JPL Opportunities websites.
Academic Liaison Office
The Academic Liaison Office is within the JPL Chief Scientist’s University Research Affairs Office. The Liaison is a single point of contact, whose role is to assist in facilitating our valued academic collaborators in navigating through JPL’s administrative bureaucracy. The Academic Liaison partners with JPL's business organization to improve interfaces between JPL and our collaborators in academia. Gloria Nguyen is currently serving in this role.
Responsibilities for the office include:
- Administrative Management of the Center for Academic Partnerships (CAP) and Strategic University Research Partnerships (SURP) programs.
- Assisting JPL sponsors in the access, (physical or remote IT) process for our external partners, including problem solving/crisis resolution in matters such as expired/denied access to academic visitors.
- Acting as a point of contact for our academic partners, to assist in "navigating" JPL.
- Assisting JPL hosts with sabbatical leaves for our academic collaborators.
- Assists JPL hosts with faculty and student visits.
- Partnering with the JPL administrative community to improve processes affecting the research community and to break down barriers inhibiting collaboration.
- Development of new relationships (i.e. Fulbright Fellowship Program) and new vehicles, to host graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and visiting academic collaborators.
NASA/JPL Science Mission Directorate (SMD) Proposal Peer Review Panel Participation
NASA provides funds to JPL for employees to serve on peer review panels for research proposals (i.e. Research Opportunities in Earth and Space Sciences (ROSES)), at the invitation of NASA HQ, either by physical participation at NASA HQ or via remote access. Details can be found at NASA/JPL SMD Proposal Peer Review Panel Participation.
Doctorate Thesis Advisory Boards
JPL employees can serve on PhD Thesis[*] boards as Subject Matter Experts (SME’s). Such participation is a means of enhancing visibility and to strengthen ties with our academic partners.
Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to frequently asked questions here[*].
[*] denotes an internal only link, not available outside of JPL