Astronomy mourns Mary Mulvanerton, ‘amazing problem-solver’

Mary Mulvanerton, long-time department manager for the Department of Astronomy and associate director of the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science (CCAPS), passed away on March 6 at the age of 64, after an extended illness. She’s being remembered by friends and colleagues as a mentor, advisor, friend and fierce advocate for the work of the department.

“Mary was a brilliant person and an amazing problem solver,” said Jonathan I. Lunine, the David C. Duncan Professor in the Physical Sciences in the College of Arts & Sciences and chair of the astronomy department. “She solved every problem presented to her. And she did it, not by bending or breaking rules and procedures, but by making them work for her. She even had people at NASA asking her for advice on one of their proposal solicitations.”

Mulvanerton was an accountant and lawyer in New York City before following her passion for space exploration and coming to Cornell in 2002 to work with Professor Emeritus Steve Squyres (A&S) on the Mars Exploration Rover mission. After that work was complete, she took on the manager posts with the department and CCAPS.

“Mary was simply amazing. She had the biggest heart of anyone I have known,” said Alexander G. Hayes, the Louis Salvatore ’92 Faculty Leadership Fellow and director of CCAPS (A&S). “She did absolutely everything she possibly could to help others. Whether it was helping a student whose rental car broke down or negotiating contract terms for a billion-dollar spacecraft mission, Mary brought the same level of passion to solving the problem and received the same level of happiness for having solved it.”

Read the full story on The College of Arts & Sciences website.

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