Dr Karen Willcox

Karen Willcox aspires to become New Zealand’s first astronaut, and – a finalist in the 2009 NASA Astronaut Selection – has demonstrated her unshakeable commitment to realising this dream.

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As Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics and Co-Director of the Center for Computational Engineering, MIT, Karen is a leader in the development of computational methods for engineering systems.

Karen leads two multi-institutional research teams: one funded by NASA to develop methods for the design of environmentally sensitive aircraft; the other funded by the Department of Energy, focussing on new approaches to model uncertainties in the tools that support complex systems.

Passionate about engineering and her chosen career, Karen seeks to inspire and nurture an interest in mathematics and science in the next generation of young women, as a teacher, lecturer and mentor, and strives to support others in realising their own ambitions.

Karen’s enthusiasm for her work is mirrored in her sporting pursuits, and she is a successful rugby player, marathon, ultra-marathon and trail runner and an experienced mountain climber.

Her website is available at http://kiwi.mit.edu/


Even today, mentors continue to play a large role in my career development. The opportunity to be a mentor myself is one of the things I love best about my job as an academic. ”