Dr. Kamlesh Lulla

President Nellis' friend and colleague Kamlesh Lulla, Ph.D., Ph.D., a NASA chief scientist, will speak during the presidential investiture ceremony on Wednesday, Oct. 18, in Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium.

Photo courtesy of: Dr. Kamlesh Lulla

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Investiture ceremony keynote speaker Dr. Kamlesh Lulla shares personal, professional reflections of President Nellis


On Wednesday, Oct. 18, the Ohio University community will listen as its newly invested 21st president, Dr. M. Duane Nellis, shares his vision and plans for OHIO’s future in his inaugural address. Another speaker during the ceremony will give the University community some insight into its new president. 

Kamlesh Lulla, Ph.D., Ph.D., is an award-winning, internationally acclaimed NASA chief scientist and an expert in space and geospatial technology who has been a senior leader and executive at NASA for the past 29 years. He has known President Nellis for more than 35 years, calling him both a colleague and friend. 

With a shared academic field of expertise, Dr. Lulla and President Nellis grew to know each other through remote sensing and geoscience conferences, as well as through each other’s research in the field. 

“We were both trying to make contributions to our disciplines,” Dr. Lulla said. “As young assistant professors, we often collaborated on research projects and organized professional workshops, symposia and special sessions at various conferences.” 

As chief scientist at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, Dr. Lulla emphasized the contributions President Nellis has made to their field. 

“Dr. Nellis has long been recognized as one of the most prominent scholars in remote sensing, while also integrating remote sensing analysis with geographic information sciences to better understand Earth land systems change,” Dr. Lulla said. “His research has been first rate and he has advanced our knowledge of land use change using satellite remote sensing technologies. His work ethic is impeccable.” 

In addition to his professional accomplishments, Dr. Lulla shared admiration for his colleague as a personal friend. 

“[He is] someone committed passionately to his research and creative activities as well as his collaborations with colleagues, but also his passion and caring attitude toward his students, engaging them in ways that advance the students’ knowledge of our complex world,” Dr. Lulla said. 

Dr. Lulla cited President Nellis’ love of students, passion for learning and commitment to diversity and inclusion as characteristics that will serve him well in his leadership of OHIO. 

“Throughout his career I have found Duane unceasing in his commitment to the value of global understanding and international studies,” Dr. Lulla said. “His supportive attitude, commitment to collegiality among his professional colleagues and selfless service to the community show the kind of leader he is. Dr. Nellis is a visionary leader who believes in inclusion, honesty and integrity.” 

Dr. Lulla, who is currently the director for the university research collaboration and partnership office at NASA Johnson Space Center, will deliver the keynote address at the investiture ceremony of President Nellis which begins at 2 p.m. in Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium on OHIO’s Athens Campus. More information about the week’s inauguration celebrations, including a link to watch a live stream of the investiture ceremony, is available on the Presidential Inauguration website

About Dr. Kamlesh Lulla

Dr. Kamlesh Lulla is an award-winning, internationally acclaimed NASA chief scientist and an expert in space and geospatial technology who has served as a senior leader and executive at NASA for the past 29 years.

Currently, Dr. Lulla is the director for the university research collaboration and partnership office at Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Dr. Lulla “brings the best minds from universities to work with engineers and scientists at NASA Johnson Space Center” to advance technology development and foster innovation for future deep space exploration missions. 

Dr. Lulla’s distinguished career at NASA spans 29 years where he has served as the chief scientist for Earth observation for space shuttle and international space station programs, directed the training of NASA astronauts in Earth observation sciences and physical science payloads. Dr. Lulla’s scientific research involved optical and radar remote sensing and advanced sensor development. In addition, Dr. Lulla developed digital imaging sensors as payloads for the space shuttle program. 

In his leadership roles at NASA, Dr. Lulla also served as chief of the flight science branch for five years and chief of the Earth science branch for five years. He also served as the chief scientist for ten years.
Dr. Lulla holds two Ph.D. degrees with expertise in environmental science and geoscience remote sensing. He served in academia as a tenured university professor of remote sensing and earth sciences for over 12 years before joining NASA.

In addition to receiving numerous awards and honors from NASA and other U.S. government agencies, Dr. Lulla has received three of NASA’s highest honors: the NASA Exceptional Achievement Medal for Science (2005), the Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Award for Innovation (2012) and the NASA Exceptional Service Medal (2015).

In 2015, Dr. Lulla received one the highest honors from the Government of India. India’s President honored Dr. Lulla with Medal and Award for Oversees Indian Immigrants (Pravasi Bhartiya Samman) for his lifetime achievements in space science and technology.

Dr. Lulla lives in Houston with his wife Marianne Lulla, a clinical psychologist and social worker. He has two grown children: son Andrew Lulla, M.D., a practicing physician; and daughter Tara Lulla, who is pursuing her Ph.D. in criminal justice.