Assistant Division Director, Mission Systems Division
Assistant Division Director and Research Associate Professor,
Mission Systems Division
Leon Harding is the assistant division director and research associate professor in the Mission Systems Division of the National Security Institute and the Center for Space Science & Engineering Research (Space@VT). He is a faculty affiliate (by appointment) in the Crofton Department of Aerospace and Ocean Engineering and holds an affiliate position with the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). His research interests in Engineering include: Ground and space instrumentation, spacecraft design, optical and near infrared detector systems, aeronautics, GPS systems and autonomy, AI/machine learning for medicine. In science, his research interests include: planetary exploration, solar system formation, space weather, stellar variability and magnetic activity.
Before joining Virginia Tech, Harding was a technologist at NASA JPL in Pasadena, California, where he was the camera test lead for the Roman Space Telescope Coronagraph (formally WFIRST). He also worked on several ground-based and airborne instrumentation programs. Before NASA JPL, Harding was a Postdoctoral Scholar of Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), in the Cahill Center for Astronomy & Astrophysics.
Harding holds memberships in The International Society for Optics and Photonics, the Project Management Institute, is a NASA Chair and NASA Reviewer for science and technology programs, and is a peer reviewer for several professional science journals, including the Astrophysical Journal and the Journal of Astronomical Telescopes, Instrumentations, and Systems.
Harding received his Ph.D in astrophysics, M.Sc of astronomy, and B.Sc in experimental physics, all from the National University of Ireland, Galway.