Instituto Superior Técnico, IST, Lisbon, PORTUGAL
Zita Martins is an Astrobiologist, an Associate Professor at Instituto Superior Técnico (IST), Co-Director of the MIT-Portugal Program (MPP), and the Advisor for Higher Education, Science, Innovation and Digital Transition of His Excellency the President of Portugal. Her scientific interests include the detection of signatures of extra-terrestrial life on space missions, and the potential contribution of meteorites and comets to the origin of life on Earth. She graduated in Chemistry at IST in 2002 and obtained a PhD in Astrobiology at the University of Leiden (Netherlands) in 2007. She was an Invited Scientist at NASA Goddard in 2005 and 2006, and an Invited Professor at the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis (France) in 2012. In 2009 she was awarded by the Royal Society with a University Research Fellowship worth 1 million pounds, having remained at Imperial College London (United Kingdom) from 2007 to 2017.
Zita Martins has been actively participating in space missions. She is Co-Investigator of two projects (OREOcube and EXOcube) of the European Space Agency (ESA) that will be installed on the International Space Station (ISS). She is a Community Scientist of the ARIEL mission (ESA), she is a member of the Hayabusa2 mission (JAXA), and a member of the Comet Interceptor mission (ESA).
She is the Portuguese representative of the Executive Committee of the European Astrobiology Network Association (EANA), member of ESA's Life Sciences Working Group (scientific advisory team), member of ESA's Solar System and Exploration Working Group, and member of the European Space Sciences Committee (ESSC).
She actively does science communication, having given over 100 international media interviews, and was selected by the BBC TV channel as Expert Scientist Women. Her portrait was painted for the Royal Society's exhibition on successful women in science and is now permanently on display at the Royal Society's London headquarters. In 2015 Zita Martins was appointed “Oficial da Ordem Militar de Sant'Iago da Espada” by His Excellency the President of Portugal for exceptional and outstanding merits in science.