John Grotzinger is a geologist interested in the evolution of sedimentary basins, hydrocarbon reservoir systems, and the robotic exploration of Mars. He has worked in energy exploration in sedimentary basins in northwestern Canada, northern Siberia, southern Africa, the western United States, and the Middle East. He received his B.Sc. in geoscience from Hobart College in 1979, an M.Sc. in geology from the University of Montana, and a Ph.D. in geology from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in 1985. He joined the MIT faculty in 1988, working on a variety of problems in sedimentary geology, including an early synthesis of microbialite reservoir systems.
In 2005, he moved from MIT to Caltech, where he is the Fletcher Jones Professor of Geology. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and received the 2012 Halbouty Award of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. Between 2007–2014, he served as the Chief Scientist for NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover mission for which he received NASA’s Distinguished Public Service Medal in 2013. From 2014–2019 he served on the Science Advisory Board for Shell International Exploration and Production. He currently serves as the Chair for Caltech’s Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences.