Nagin has been exploring since she decided as a teenager that she wanted to work at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She was born in Bangalore, India, and grew up in Kansas City, Kansas, and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Nagin has held leadership and system engineering positions on interplanetary robotic missions, including the Galileo mission to Jupiter, the Mars Exploration Rovers, the Kepler exoplanet hunter, InSight, and the Mars Curiosity Rover, and now the 2020 Perseverance Rover. She was also involved in the MOXIE (Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment) team, prototyping making oxygen on Mars from the martian atmosphere. She is currently a Tactical Mission Lead on the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover and the Mars Curiosity Rover.
Nagin is honored to be the namesake for Asteroid 14061. She has also received the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and two NASA Exceptional Achievement Medals. She is a U.S. Department of State’s STEM Speaker. She has spoken to audiences around the US, Canada, Caribbean, Europe, South America, the Middle East, and South Asia on the stories of the people behind the missions. Her lecture on Mars Time on the TED Talk website has been viewed more than two million times (https://www.ted.com/talks/nagin_cox_what_time_is_it_on_mars).
Before her time at JPL, she served in the US Air Force, including duty as a Space Operations Officer at NORAD/US Space Command. Nagin holds engineering degrees from Cornell University and the Air Force Institute of Technology and a psychology degree from Cornell.
She is a past member of Cornell University’s President’s Council for Cornell Women. She has served on the Boards of the Griffith Observatory Foundation and Impact Personal Safety: Self-Defense & Empowerment for Women. She sits on the Advisory Committee for the Women’s Rights Division of Human Rights Watch and is part of the Advisory Council for the Planetary Society.