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Photo of Z. Nagin Cox
   Z. Nagin Cox
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Pasadena, California
United States Of America
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High School: Shawnee Mission East, Prairie Village,  KS
B.S Engineering; B.A. Psychology, Cornell University
Space Operations Systems Engineering, Air Force Institute of Technology

Background Information
Nagin graduated from Cornell University with a BS in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering and a BA in Psychology and was commissioned as an officer in the US Air Force. As a lieutenant, she was stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio and worked as a systems engineer in F-16 aircrew training. Then she attended the Air Force Institute of Technology where she received a masters degree in Space Operations Systems Engineering. As a captain, she served as an Orbital Analyst at NORAD/Space Command in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Springs.

After leaving the Air Force to pursue more civilian space applications, she joined JPL in 1993 and began her time on planetary missions working in outer solar system projects. She served as the Deputy Team Chief of the engineering spacecraft flight team for NASA/JPL’s Galileo mission to Jupiter until February of 2000. She then moved to inner solar system exploration as the Deputy Team Chief of the Spacecraft/Rover Engineering Flight Team on the JPL Mars Exploration Rover Missions. Next Nagin spent two years in extra-solar exploration as the Deputy Project System Engineer on the Kepler telescope mission to search for earth-like planets around other stars and then became the Supervisor for the Surface Systems –Systems Engineering Group at JPL. She returned to Mars Exploration and led a proposed Mars lander mission that was successfully selected as a finalist for the 2016 mission opportunity. She is currently working on Mars Science Laboratory (MSL)- NASA’s next rover to Mars that launched in Nov 2011 and lands in August of 2012. On this mission, she has served in the past as the Assistant Flight System Engineering Manager and is currently part of the mission operations team flying the rover to Mars. Nagin has spoken to audiences around the US, in Europe, and the Middle East on the stories of the people behind the missions.

In her spare time, Nagin races with her dragonboating team, competes in sprint triathlons and sings with a Sweet Adelines barbershop chorus. She is part of the assistant staff with a women’s self-defense program and is involved with the Women’s Rights Committee of Human Rights Watch. She also enjoys exploring this planet with her husband.

Personal Reflections

The most important thing is to enjoy what you do- the enthusiasm will come through in every aspect of your work. [more personal reflections ...]