Scott Sandford

Scott Sandford

Professional Biography:

During his scientific career, Dr. Sandford has worked in the fields of seismology, medium energy particle physics, biophysics, meteoritics, infrared astronomy, and laboratory astrophysics/astrochemistry/astrobiology. As a scientist at NASA Ames Research Center, (1986-present) Dr. Sandford authored and co-authored many successful grants and over 175 peer reviewed research papers. As a member of the Astrophysics and Astrochemistry Laboratory at NASA-Ames, he has over 25 years experience with the study of meteorites and other extraterrestrial samples, ice photochemistry, and the interpretation of astrophysical infrared data. Much of his research work is focused on the formation and evolution of organics in astrophysical environments. Dr. Sandford is heavily involved in space mission work, particularly infrared spectrometry missions and missions associated with sample return. He was a Co-Investigator on NASA’s Stardust Comet Sample Return Mission and JAXA’s Hayabusa Asteroid Sample Return Mission. He is currently a Co-Investigator on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx Asteroids Sample Return Mission and is leading an effort to plan for potential future comet sample return missions. He has also served as the Principal Investigatory on a number of airborne and space borne observatory concepts. Dr. Sandford regularly serves on NASA Review Panels and has served as an Associate Editor for the journal Meteoritics and Planetary Science since 1995.


B.S. in Math and Physics, 1978, New Mexico Institute of Mining & Technology
M.A. in Physics, 1981, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
Ph.D. in Physics, 1985, Washington University, St. Louis, MO

Select Publications:

[Click here for a more complete list]

Ciesla, F. J., & Sandford, S. A. (2012). Organic Synthesis via Irradiation and Warming of Ice Grains in the Solar Nebula. Science 336, 452-454.

Nuevo, M., Milam, S. N., Sandford, S. A., Elsila, J. E., & Dworkin, J. P. (2009). Formation of Uracil from the UV Photo-Irradiation of Pyrimidine in Pure H2O Ices. Astrobiology 9, #7, 683-695.

Sandford, S. A., et al. (2006). Organics Captured from Comet 81P/Wild 2 by the Stardust Spacecraft. Science 314, 1720-1724.

Bernstein, M. P., Dworkin, J. P., Sandford, S. A., Cooper, G. W., & Allamandola, L. J. (2002). Racemic Amino Acids from the Ultraviolet Photolysis of Interstellar Ice Analogues. Nature 416, 401-403.

Dworkin, J.P., Deamer, D.W., Sandford, S.A., & Allamandola, L.J. (2001). Self-Assembling Amphiphilic Molecules: Synthesis in Simulated Interstellar/Precometary Ices. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 98, 815-819.

Sandford, S.A., Bernstein, M.P., & Dworkin, J.P. (2001). Assessment of the Interstellar Processes Leading to Deuterium Enrichment in Meteoritic Organics. Meteoritics and Planetary Science, 36, 1117-1133.

Sandford, S. A., Bernstein, M. P., Allamandola, L. J., Gillette, J. S., & Zare, R. N. (2000). Deuterium Enrichment of PAHs by Photochemically Induced Exchange with Deuterium-rich Cosmic Ices. Astrophys. J. 538, 691-697.

Bernstein, M. P., Sandford, S. A., Allamandola, L. J., Gillette, J. S., Clemett, S. J., & Zare, R. N. (1999). UV Irradiation of Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons in Ices: Production of Alcohols, Quinones, and Ethers. Science 283, 1135-1138.

Hudgins, D. M., & Sandford, S. A. (1998). Infrared Spectroscopy of Matrix-Isolated Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons 1. PAHs Containing 2 to 4 Rings. J. Phys. Chem. 102, 329-343.

Bernstein, M. P., Sandford, S. A., & Allamandola, L. J. (1996). Hydrogenated Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (Hn-PAHs) and the 2940 and 2850 Wavenumber (3.40 and 3.51 Micron) Infrared Emission Features. Astrophys. J. 472, L127-L130.

Bernstein, M. P., Sandford, S. A., Allamandola, L. J., Chang, S., & Scharberg, M. A. (1995). Organic Compounds Produced by Photolysis of Realistic Interstellar and Cometary Ice Analogs Containing Methanol. Astrophys. J. 454, 327-344.

Sandford, S. A., Pendleton, Y. J., & Allamandola, L. J. (1995). The Galactic Distribution of Aliphatic Hydrocarbons in the Diffuse Interstellar Medium. Astrophys. J. 440, 697-705.

Hudgins, D. M., Sandford, S. A., Allamandola, L. J., & Tielens, A. G. G. M. (1994). Mid- and Far-Infrared Spectroscopy of Ices: Optical Constants and Integrated Absorbances. The AAS CD-ROM Series, Volume 1, (expanded version of the tables in Astrophys. J. Suppl. Ser. 86, 713-870).

Allamandola, L. J., Sandford, S. A., Tielens, A. G. G. M., & Herbst, T. M. (1993). “Diamonds” in Dense Molecular Clouds: A Challenge to the Standard Interstellar Paradigm. Science 260, 64-66.

Blake, D., Allamandola, L., Sandford, S., Hudgins, D., & Freund, F. (1991). Clathrate Hydrate Formation in Amorphous Cometary Ice Analogs in Vacuo. Science 254, 548-551.

Sandford, S. A., Allamandola, L. J., Tielens, A. G. G. M., Sellgren, K., Tapia, M., & Pendleton, Y. (1991). The Interstellar C-H Stretching Band near 3.4 µm: Constraints on the Composition of Organic Material in the Diffuse Interstellar Medium. Astrophys. J. 371, 607-620.

Sandford, S. A., Allamandola, L. J., Tielens, A. G. G. M., & Valero, G. (1988). Laboratory studies of the infrared spectral properties of CO in astrophysical ices. Astrophys. J. 329, 498-510.

Sandford, S. A., & Walker, R. M. (1985). Laboratory infrared transmission spectra of individual interplanetary dust particles from 2.5 to 25 microns. Astrophys. J. 291, 838-851.

Awards and Other:

2010 Named a Fellow of the American Physical Society
2010 NASA/Ames Scientist/Researcher Honor Award
2009 NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal
2007 H. Julian Allen Award (with M. Bernstein, L. Allamandola, and R. Zare)
2007 Air Force Association Honor Award
2006 NASA/Ames Scientist/Researcher Honor Award
2006 Named a Fellow of the Meteoritical Society
2004 Stardust Outstanding Achievement Award
2004 Asteroid 16035 named 16035 Sasandford
2000 Named an Ames Associate Fellow (5/18/00)
1996 NASA/Ames Scientist Honor Award
1986 Awarded the Antarctic Service Medal (for work done with ANSMET)