Adriana Ocampo has been making discoveries about our solar system for decades. She discovered her future at Pasadena City College.

Ocampo, who majored in aerospace engineering at Pasadena City College and participated in a Jet Propulsion Laboratory-sponsored science program, is a planetary geologist and science program manager at NASA headquarters who is an expert on asteroids and the impact craters they have left behind on Earth. As a New Frontier lead program executive, she was responsible for the Juno mission to Jupiter and the New Horizons mission to Pluto. Among her many other career highlights, she was the investigation scientist for the Mars Odyssey Gamma Ray Spectrometer/High Energy Neutron Detector/MARIE in 2005 and she has also worked for the Mars Program Science Division and the Solid Earth and Natural Disasters Program.

After leaving Pasadena City College, Ocampo earned her bachelor’s degree in geology with an emphasis in planetary sciences at Cal State Los Angeles, and she earned her master’s degree in geology from Cal State Northridge with her thesis on the Chicxulub impact crater in Mexico. She earned her doctorate from Vrije Universiteit in The Netherlands.

Ocampo was the first to recognize that a ring of sinkholes, or “cenotes,” found in the Yucatan peninsula was related to the buried impact crater. The Chicxulub impact caused the extinction of more than half the Earth’s species, including the dinosaurs, at the end of the Cretaceous period some 65 million years ago.

Ocampo was awarded the 2004 Outstanding Alumni from the California Community College League. In 2007 she was awarded the Cal State Northridge Outstanding Alumni Award for her contributions to space science.