Skip Navigation

Serina Diniega

Photo of Serina Diniega


4800 Oak Grove Drive
M/S 321-630

Pasadena, CA 91109





Curriculum Vitae:

Click here

Member of:

Planetary Geosciences

Group Supervisor


Dr. Serina Diniega is a mathematical planetary geomorphologist studying present-day gully and dune evolution on Mars and serves as group supervisor for the Planetary Geosciences group at JPL. In addition to science research, she is heavily involved with mission development, with current responsibilities as an Investigation Scientist on the Europa Clipper Mission and as a science lead in very early development of Mars small spacecraft mission concepts. She also has extensive experience with the NASA Mars Program Office and Mars community support and science synthesis endeavors.

Serina has loved math since she was a child and has been interested in space exploration since a visit to NASA Johnson Space Center at the age of 12. As an undergraduate at Caltech, she found a way to combine both interests while delving deep into the ways landforms evolve into specific patterns, shapes, and sizes. Using simple models, analysis, and numerical simulation, she aims to understand the influence that environmental conditions and physical processes have in shaping a landscape. She received her PhD in Applied Mathematics at the University of Arizona where she explored dune and dune field pattern formation on the Earth and Mars. As a NASA postdoctoral researcher (NPP) at JPL, she studied how lava flow dynamics evolve and form surface features on lava flows on the Earth, Mars, and Venus. Her recent studies have focused on identifying the mechanisms and drivers for frost- and wind-driven surface activity on present-day Mars, and analogous processes active on other worlds.

In addition to her research and mission development, she prioritizes encouraging students -- including women and those with minoritized identities -- and the general public in STEM studies. She also seeks to increase inclusivity in scientific practices and thus enable diverse contributions within the science community. She has a taught or mentored a wide variety of students (K-12 and undergraduate) in math, geology, and planetary science topics and research projects.


  • PhD, Applied Mathematics (minor Planet. Sci.), University of Arizona, 2010
  • MS, Space Studies, International Space University (Strasbourg, France), 2004
  • BS, Mathematics (with honors), California Institute of Technology, 2003

Professional Experience

-Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), since 2013:

  • Europa Clipper Mission, Investigation Scientist for the imaging spectrometer (MISE) (since 2015)
  • JPL small spacecraft concept development team, Science Lead (since 2019) for in situ aeolian/meteorological investigation concepts.
  • Science Co-I on 2 JPL-strategic initiatives for onboard spacecraft processing (Mars & Europa: since 2018)
  • Mars Co-I on UK/NERC-US/NSF research grant to study dune formation (since 2019)
  • Mars Program Office (2013-Mar. 2020): Senior MPO science systems engineer, Critical Data Products (CDP) Program Manager.
  • Co-lead for MEPAG-chartered Ice and Climate Evolution Science Analysis Group (ICE-SAG) (2019)
  • Mars Program Office (2013-Mar. 2020): Senior MPO science systems engineer, Critical Data Products (CDP) Program Manager.
  • PI for NASA ROSES MDAP to study martian dune-alcoves activity (2016-2019)
  • Co-I for NASA ROSES MFRP to study linear gully formation (2016-2019)
  • Project Scientist for Discovery 2015, Step-1 Proposal (Pandora: Phobos/Deimos orbiter)
  • “Project” Scientist for MPO Next Mars Orbiter study (NeMO) (2016-2017) and JPL Mars Directorate Phobos small lander study (2015-2016)
  • Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) Operations (2013-2014): Payload Operations Specialist Team (POST), Mars Climate Sounder (MCS) Uplink
  • Have advised >20 undergraduate interns in science research (2011-2020), including 3 on related baccalaureate honors theses

-NASA Postdoc, JPL, Planetary Geology/Geophysics (2010-2013)

Community Service

  • Scientific Manuscript Review: Computer Physics Communications, Earth Surface Processes & Landforms, Geomorphology, Icarus (top reviewer in 2015), Nature Geoscience
  • Grant Review (panelist): NASA GSRP, NASA SSW, NASA MDAP
  • AAS DPS, Professional Climate and Culture Subcommittee (PCCS): member since 2017, Co-chair since 2018
  • Conference Convener: Workshop on Amazonian and Present-day Climate on Mars (June 2018), Ninth Internat. Conf. on Mars (2019)
  • Science organizing committee member: Mars Enigmas (2020), 6th Internat. Planetary Dune Workshop (2020), 7th Internat. Conf. on Mars Polar Sci. & Explorat. (ICMPSE) (2020), AAS DPS Fall meeting (Oct 2018), Late Mars Wkshp (Oct 2018), 6th ICMPSE. (2016)
  • Conference session organizer: COSPAR (2020; 2018), GSA (2019), LPSC (2017)
  • JPL EarlyCareer PhD Core Committee (convened by the JPL Office of the Chief Scientist and coordinated with NASA): Member 2015, Co-Chair 2016
  • JPL Advisory Council for Women: Membership Coordinator 2012-2013, Chair 2014-2015
  • Section Editor for Springer 2014 Encyclopedia of Planetary Landforms (mass-wasting)

Research Interests

  • Using analysis, laboratory experiments, & simulation, determine connections between environment, processes, & planetary geomorphology.
  • Contribute towards the development & success of planetary missions over the next four decades.
  • Promote the education/interest of the next generation in mathematics, engineering, & science.
  • Facilitate, develop, & implement program- and community-level strategies for the engagement of the planetary science community, towards inclusion and scientific progress within robotic planetary exploration.

Selected Awards

  • JPL Team Award for Europa Clipper Investigation Scientists (2017)
  • JPL Voyager Bonus Award for work on Mars missions’ Senior Review preparation (2016)
  • JPL Mariner Bonus Award for work as the Next Orbiter SAG Executive Officer (2016)
  • NASA Honors Group Achievement Award for assistance in Comet Siding Springs efforts (2015)
  • JPL Voyager Bonus Award and JPL Team Bonus Award for work on MEPAG 2015 Goals Document Revision (2015)
  • JPL Team Award for 2015 MEPAG Goals document and MEPAG meeting (2015)
  • JPL Mariner Bonus Awards for work on MRO Extended Mission Proposal, organizing work towards the 8th International Conference on Mars, work on Comet Siding Springs (Critical Data Products VIII)  (2014)


Europa Clipper