Dr. Gajanana (Gaj) Birur

Gajanana (Gaj) Birur is a Principal spacecraft engineer/technologist at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. He has been with JPL since 1979, soon after receiving his Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering. He has led teams at JPL that developed advanced spacecraft thermal technologies many of which have been implemented on NASA Mars rovers such as the Mars Pathfinder (1996) and the Mars rover ‘Curiosity’ (2011). He has been awarded the NASA’s Exceptional Engineering Achievement Award and the NASA’s Exceptional Service Award. He received his M.E. in Aeronautics from IISc in 1971.

In 2004 Gaj co-founded a Bangalore-based NGO that provides science educational outreach to underserved government primary school children in the rural areas around the town of Birur and in Bangalore in Karnataka. Gaj was a co-chair of the IISc Alumni Association of North America (2015-18) and the founding editor (2013) of the IISc AANA Newsletter.