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Gregory Kovacs

Professor of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University

Dr. Kovacs is an Associate Professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University with a courtesy appointment in the Department of Medicine. He received a BASc degree in Electrical Engineering from the University of British Columbia, an MS degree in Bioengineering from the University of California, Berkeley, and a PhD and an MD degree from Stanford University. His present research areas include biomedical instruments and sensors, miniaturized spaceflight hardware, and biotechnology. In addition, Dr. Kovacs is the Director of Medical Device Technologies for the Astrobionics Program at the NASA Ames Research Center, and for the Stanford-NASA National Biocomputation Center. He helps direct a variety of projects spanning wearable physiologic monitors, biosensor instruments for detection of chemical and biological warfare agents and space biology applications, and free-flyer experiment payloads.


He has published extensively in technical literature, including authorship of a popular engineering textbook. He is a long-standing member of the Defense Sciences Research Council (DARPA), and has served as Associate Chair and Chairman. He also has extensive industry experience including co-founding several companies, most recently Cepheid in Sunnyvale, CA, supplier of advanced instrumentation for nucleic acid diagnostics. He received an NSF Young Investigator Award, held the Noyce Family Chair, and was a Terman and then University Fellow at Stanford. He is a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering. Dr. Kovacs is a private pilot, scuba diver, and a Fellow National of the Explorers Club.


He has considerable field experience, including a successful expedition to Palau in 2000 to locate and document downed WW II aircraft in various underwater and jungle locations. Later that year, he led a team of Stanford researchers with the U.S. Marine Corps at 29 Palms, CA, for a successful field test of a portable biological toxin detection system developed in his laboratory. Through the DSRC, he has also participated in numerous military activities. He is currently involved in hands-on field testing of NASA wearable monitors in high altitude conditions, with several field tests completed in 2003. He was a member of a NASA and National Geographic Society sponsored team that climbed Licancabur volcano (19,734 ft.) on the Chile/Bolivia border in November of 2003, serving as medical, physiologic research, and photography lead.


He recently served as the Investigation Scientist for the debris team of the Columbia Accident Investigation Board, having worked for the first four months after the accident at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. In this role, he carried out physical, photographic, x-ray, chemical and other analyses on selected items from the nearly 90,000 pounds of recovered debris and worked toward understanding the nature of the accident.