Jonathan Cirtain

Jonathan Cirtain

VP Advanced Technologies, BWX Technologies, Inc.

Dr. Jonathan W. Cirtain is the vice president of Advanced Technology Programs for BWX Technologies, Inc. (BWXT). In this position, he oversees innovative nuclear technology applications, including engineering for NASA’s Nuclear Thermal Propulsion program, 3-D printing technology for aerospace and defense applications, and radiochemical and radiopharmaceutical product development for cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Dr. Cirtain joined BWXT after co-founding Astraea, Inc. – a small business created to design and develop a platform for machine learning and data science analytics utilizing Earth-observing satellite and in situ data sources. He served as the organization’s chief scientist and technologist.

Prior to his entrepreneurship, Dr. Cirtain spent nine years with NASA, beginning his career as an astrophysicist and holding positions of increased responsibility at the Marshall Space Flight Center. He concluded his tenure with the agency as the manager of the Science Research Office, overseeing a staff of nearly 170 scientists and contractors in applied science and technology development. 

With a passion for design and innovation, Dr. Cirtain has contributed to and led teams in the development of leading science and technology applications including, x-ray imaging telescopes, extreme ultraviolet (EUV) imaging telescopes, UV spectropolarimeters and EUV spectroscopic imagers for stellar astrophysics experiments. He also developed plasma confinement systems for lab research, a solid rocket motor system for suborbital vehicles and graphics processing unit technology for video systems. 

During his time with NASA in 2010, Dr. Cirtain received the most prestigious honor given by the U.S. government to scientists and engineers in the onset of their independent research careers – the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. 

Among his various honors and appointments, Dr. Cirtain has served on advisory committees for NASA, the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy, National Academy for Science and Engineering, Royal Academy of Science, European Space Agency and numerous universities.

Dr. Cirtain earned his Ph.D. in physics from Montana State. A graduate of the University of Memphis, he also holds bachelor’s degrees in physics and mathematics.