Natural Science Advisory Council
David W. Mittlefehldt

Fredonia Science Center
221 Science Center
State University of New York at Fredonia
Fredonia, NY 14063
Ph: 716-673-3285

Dr. Holly Lawson
Project Shepherd

Markus Kessler
Director of Facilities Planning

John Kijinski
Dean, College of Liberal Arts & Sciences

Betty Gossett
Associate Vice President for University Development

David Tiffany
Vice President for University Advancement & Executive Director of the Fredonia College Foundation

  David Mittlefehldt

David W. Mittlefehldt


Graduation date from Fredonia: 1973
Major(s) while at Fredonia:


Other Education

1978 Ph.D. in Geochemistry from UCLA

Present professional positions

Astromaterials Research Office, NASA/Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX  Mail Code KR,Houston, Texas 77058

Office Phone/Fax:  281-483-5043
E-mail:david.w.mittlefehldt@nasa.govMittlefehldt Web Page

Past professional positions
Positions (academic)
1987 - 2000 Scientist and Project Manager, Basic and Applied Research Department, Lockheed Martin Engineering and Sciences Co. (at Johnson Space Center), Houston, TX

NASA Research Associate at Johnson Space Center, National Research Council, Houston, TX


Lecturer in Geology, Department of Geology and Mineralogy, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Be'er Sheva, Israel (on leave of absence final year).

1979 - 1980

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Isotope Research, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel.

1978 - 1979

Postdoctoral Research Associate, Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Professional affiliation(s), e.g. Boards, National Committees, etc.

Meteoritical Society

     Geochemical Society
  American Geophysical Union
Brief bio

DR. DAVID W. MITTLEFEHLDT, known far and wide as "duck" (a nickname he acquired while at Fredonia), is a scientist in the Astromaterials Research Office at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC).  He spends his time pursuing research on the formation of meteorites and how they relate to the early history of the solar system, and in studies of the geology of Mars.  His major interests are achondrite and stony iron meteorites - those meteorites that have been heated enough to have suffered igneous processing - and martian meteorites.  He studies the petrology and geochemistry of these materials using optical microscopy, electron microprobe analysis, instrumental neutron activation analysis, solution and laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry, and a pot of coffee to defog the brain.

Duck earned a BS in Geology from SUNY College at Fredonia in 1973, and a Ph.D. in Geochemistry from UCLA in 1978.  It was at UCLA, quite by chance, that he began his long, intimate association with meteorites, first in the research group led by Prof. George W. Wetherill, and later with Prof. John T. Wasson.  With degree in hand, he sojourned far and wide through many research, academic and governmental institutions in the US and abroad, finally landing in Houston at JSC in 1985.  In 2000, NASA hired him as a scientist, where he manages the gamma-ray spectroscopy laboratory, is in the process of setting up an inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry laboratory, and participates in planning daily operations for the twin rovers Spirit and Opportunity on Mars.

Duck was a team member on the 1997, 2001 and 2004 Antarctic Search for Meteorites (ANSMET) field teams.  He was an Associate Editor for Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta from 1992 to 1997, and began a second stint in 2002.  Duck was an Associate Editor for Meteoritics & Planetary Science from 1998 to 2004.  He has served on review panels for NASA’s Cosmochemistry Program, and on committees for the Meteoritical Society.  Duck co-convened two scientific workshops jointly sponsored by the Lunar and Planetary Institute and the NASA Cosmochemistry Program.  He served as Acting Meteorite Curator for NASA/JSC in 2001.  Duck is a Principal Investigator in NASA's Cosmochemistry Program, and is a Participating Scientist on the Mars Exploration Rover Mission.

Duck was elected a Fellow of the Meteoritical Society in 1996.  In 2002, in recognition of his work in meteorite research, the International Astronomical Union approved naming an asteroid in his honor – 5760 Mittlefehldt.  In 2003, duck was presented with an Outstanding Achievement Award from the Alumni Affairs Office of SUNY Fredonia.  In May 2007 duck returned to SUNY Fredonia to give the commencement address at the morning commencement ceremony and received a Doctorate of Science (Honorary) from the State University of New York.  He has published extensively on the petrology and geochemistry of meteorites, and on the mineralogy and geochemistry of Mars surface rocks and soils.  He is the author or co-author of over 80 peer-reviewed journal articles and book chapters, 20 invited articles, and 200 conference abstracts.

To maintain internal equilibrium, duck does volunteer work at the Houston Zoo.  Two mornings a month he helps in the primate section, and one morning a month duck works the elephant yard, where his 20+ years of experience working at a government facility makes him a master at shoveling massive quantities of ...

Page modified 9/17/15