Dr. Jason Kalirai is the Mission Area Executive for Civil Space at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. Overseeing the Civil Space Mission Area, he leads the implementation of innovative and cost-effective solutions to critical civil space challenges by developing space science missions, instruments, and research programs. He continues to shepherd major Civil Space programs under development, in operation and successfully completed at APL, such as: New Horizons, Parker Solar Probe, DART, Europa Clipper, Lunar Vertex, IMAP, EZIE, Dragonfly, and more.

Prior to joining the Laboratory in 2018, Dr. Kalirai served as the Multi-Mission Project Scientist at NASA’s Space Telescope Science Institute. He led strategic initiatives to realize operational, technological, and scientific synergies for the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), and the Nancy Grace Roman Telescope. He played a leading role in championing the science of these missions. He previously served as the Institute’s Project Scientist for JWST.

In addition to his APL responsibilities, Dr. Kalirai participates and leads scientific research programs aimed at understanding stellar lifecycles. His research group has published over 100 research papers, and he has given hundreds of invited presentations.
Honors for him include the American Astronomical Society’s Newton Lacy Pierce Prize, the Maryland Academy of Sciences Outstanding Young Scientist award, and Baltimore Magazine’s “40 under 40” award. Finally, he completed a postdoctoral fellowship as a Hubble Fellow at the University of California at Santa Cruz.

Education History

  • BSc (Honours) Physics and Astronomy, University of British Columbia
  • MSc Astrophysics, University of British Columbia
  • PhD Astrophysics, University of British Columbia

Work Experience

Principal Professional Staff, JHU Applied Physics Laboratory


75+ research papers published in the past 10 years (full list: https://www.jasonkalirai.com/research)
h-index = 50+; first author h-index = 20

Key research themes: Stellar evolution, star formation, star clusters, Milky Way galaxy, galaxy formation, future telescopes

Example 1st author papers
Scientific Discovery with the James Webb Space Telescope (Invited Review)
– Kalirai, J. 2018, Contemporary Physics, 59 (3), 251-290

Ultra-Deep Hubble Space Telescope Imaging of the Small Magellanic Cloud: The Initial Mass Function of Stars under 1 Msun
– Kalirai, J. et al. 2013, Astrophysical Journal, 763, 110-117

The Initial-Final Mass Relation: Direct Constraints at the Low Mass End
– Kalirai, J. et al. 2008, Astrophysical Journal, 676, 594-609; 225 citations

The Metal-poor Halo of the Andromeda Spiral Galaxy (M31)
– Kalirai, J. et al. 2006, Astrophysical Journal, 648, 389-404; 155 citations

Honors and Awards

  • Selected by the White House as one of 200 US scientists invited to the “Frontiers Conference” to meet with President Obama (2016)
  • Kavli Frontiers of Science Fellow (2014)
  • NASA Group Achievement Award for WFIRST (2014)
  • American Astronomical Society’s Newton Lacy Pierce Prize (2013)
  • Maryland Academy of Sciences Outstanding Young Scientist (2013)
  • Baltimore Magazine’s “Top 40 under 40” (2013)
  • Selected by CNN as the first scientist for their new “The Science Seat” feature (2013)
  • Selected by Astronomy magazine as “Top Rising Star” (2013)

Professional Organizations

American Astronomical Society
American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics
Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers