Sciences and Exploration Directorate

Barbara J Mattson (she/hers)


Barbara J Mattson (she/hers)'s Contact Card & Information.
Phone: 301.286.1243
Org Code: 660
Mail Code 661
Greenbelt, MD 20771

Brief Bio

Dr. Mattson is currently the Astrophysics Communications Scientist for the ASD, managing the day-to-day work of the communications team as they create news features, social media posts, and multimedia products.

She joined the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) as a graduate student in 1998 working with the X-ray calorimeter instrumentation team. Since then, she has conducted research on supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies in pursuit of her PhD while seeking opportunities to share astronomy with students and educators.

Prior to moving into full-time communications, Dr. Mattson's research concentrated on spectroscopy of active galactic nuclei, studying the emission of X-rays from very near the supermassive black holes at the centers of certain galaxies. Dr. Mattson earned her Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Maryland, which she pursued part-time while working as a support scientist. She entered graduate school as a High Energy Astrophysics Fellow, a joint fellowship between the University of Maryland and Goddard’s Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics. Throughout her career, Dr. Mattson has had a strong interest in translating astronomy for a variety of non-professional audiences, starting in her senior undergraduate year as a volunteer astronomer for Project-ASTRO in New Mexico and continuing today as a professional education specialist.


Associate Research Scientist

USRA - Goddard Space Flight Center, Greeenbelt, MD

2011 - 2017


Support Scientist

ADNET Systems, Inc. - NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

2001 - 2011


Graduate Research Assistant

University of Maryland, College Park - NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD

2000 - 2008


Principal Faculty Specialist

University of Maryland, College Park - Greenbelt, MD

2017 - Present


2008 PhD, Astronomy, University of Maryland, College Park, MD
Thesis: "An X-Ray Spectral Database for AGN Using a Decade of RXTE Seyfert"
Advisors Kimberly Weaver and Chris Reynolds

2001 MSci, Astronomy, University of Maryland, College Park, MD

1998 BSci, Physics with the Astrophysics Option, New Mexico Tech, Socorro, NM, 1998

1998 BSci, Mathematics, New Mexico Tech, NM, 1998



2007. "Possible X-Ray Diagnostic for Jet/Disk Dominance in Type 1 AGNs." The Astrophysical Journal 664 101 [Full Text] [10.1086/518783] [Journal Article/Letter]

2004. "The Swift Gamma‐Ray Burst Mission." The Astrophysical Journal 611 (2): 1005-1020 [Full Text] [10.1086/422091] [Journal Article/Letter]

2003. "Ozone Depletion from Nearby Supernovae." Astrophys. J. 585 1169-1176 [Journal Article/Letter]


2012. "Bring NASA astrophysics into your science, math, and humanities classroom." New Jersey Education Association Review 86 (3): 12-15 [Magazine]