Professional Bio

I am a Lead Scientist at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI), where I work in the Solar System Science and Exploration Division in Boulder, CO. I study the climate dynamics of terrestrial atmospheres through the use atmospheric models of varying complexity, including general circulation models and mesoscale models. I am also involved in instrument development, using new laser based techniques to observe atmospheres and surfaces both in situ and remotely. Finally, I am a member of the Project ESPRESSO team, which is a virtual institute funded by NASA’s SSERVI program to enable and enhance future solar system exploration by developing the tools and techniques that both robotic and human explorers will need.

In the seemingly rapidly receding past, I was an engineer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. I worked on a wide range of projects, from advanced concept design to technology development to flight development. I was involved in a two flight missions during the development phase: the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Deep Impact missions.

A quick overview of my work can be found below and details are in my CV.


I have been very, very lucky to go to some great schools where I learned from amazing professors, and became friends with inspiring, impressive people, not just in science and engineering but also in the arts, finance, and elsewhere. I am thankful and grateful for the experiences that my hard work and luck, together, provided me.

California Institute of Technology Ph.D., Planetary Science 2012
Stanford University M.S. in Aeronautics & Astronautics 2000
Dartmouth College B.A., Physics & Astronomy 1997


My career has wandered around a bit. I started as an employee of Lockheed Martin working on orbital debris modeling at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. This was more of a science job than an engineering one. Then, after getting my master’s at Stanford, I worked as system engineer on a variety of projects at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). My work at JPL ranged from working on flight projects to working on instrument development. Lots of system engineering and project management. Then, I went to grad school for planetary science, after which I started working as a professional scientist at the Southwest Research Institute. I have been there since, working on projects that blend my science and engineering careers.

Southwest Research Institute Lead Scientist (currently) 1/2015 – present
Southwest Research Institute Postdoctoral Scholar 1/2013 – 12/2014
California Institute of Technology Postdoctoral Scholar 8/2012 – 12/2012
Colorado School of Mines Postdoctoral Scholar 2/2012 – 7/2012
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory System Engineer 4/2000 – 7/2004
Lockheed Martin Missiles & Space Technical Staff 9/1997 – 9/1998

Alejandro Soto is my name,
And science is my vocation.
Earth is my dwelling place,
The planets my destination.