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IKNS Lecturer and NASA Program Director Gregory L. Robinson Named to the 2022 TIME100 Most Influential People List

The James Webb Space Telescope returned its first images on Tuesday, July 12, 2022. Robinson was recognized by the president in a briefing about the mission. More images from NASA may be found here.


Information & Knowledge Strategy (IKNS) Lecturer Gregory L. Robinson has been named to the Time100 Most Influential People list for 2022. Robinson, who is the program director of the James Webb Space Telescope, NASA’s largest space mission, was named a “pioneer” by Time. Other luminaries on the list include Olympic gold medalist Elieen Gu and the CEO of COVID-19 vaccine producer Moderna, Stéphane Bancel.

Time awarded individuals who have demonstrated significant impact, innovation, and achievement over the past year. In a tribute to Robinson, Nobel Prize laureate, astrophysicist, and NASA Senior Project Scientist John Mather praised him for his leading role in the construction of the Webb telescope. More than 10,000 scientists, engineers, and others worked on the project, “an engineering miracle” that NASA called the largest and most complex scientific observatory ever built. The telescope was planned and produced in partnership with the European and Canadian Space Agencies and required complex coordination and cooperation with additional government and private entities.

Wrote Mather, “Our teams orbit around Greg, because we trust him to ask questions and understand our concerns and respect our opinions. He makes it look easy, but I can barely imagine how he does it, and I admire him tremendously for it.” The nomination came as a surprise to Robinson, though: “When I first saw the TIME100 list, I asked myself, why was I on the list? It hit me that the team I’m leading has accomplished a generational achievement that will benefit humankind for decades.”  

Robinson cited the impact of the Columbia IKNS program on his career. “IKNS has played an important role for me over the past few years, primarily by sharing knowledge and experiences through the incredibly smart and experienced faculty, as well as the seminars with internal and external guests. Additionally, most importantly for me, interacting with the students—who also bring a wealth of knowledge and experiences to the IKNS program—is crucial. My role is to contribute in many of the same ways. I try to challenge students to think as leaders in addition to applying the fundamentals.”

Robinson teaches Leading Large Complex Projects in the program. Learn more about Columbia’s M.S. in Information & Knowledge Strategy.