Charles Rolls and Henry Royce Purdue Memorial Lecture Series

The Charles Rolls and Henry Royce Purdue Memorial Lecture Series is presented by Rolls-Royce and Purdue's School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. This series began in 2002 and brings to campus speakers from the aviation and aerospace industries to inspire students who are considering careers in these fields. 

Rolls-Royce has a long heritage and connection with the aviation industry and is proud to have a partnership with Purdue University that represents a strong collaborative relationship. This lecture series provides an opportunity to showcase the capabilities and strengths of a world-class research facility while allowing Purdue students to meet and listen to top executives from the aviation and aerospace industries.


Marla Perez-Davis

Marla Pérez-Davis

Director John H. Glenn Research Center, NASA

Time: 2:30 p.m.

Date: Sept. 16, 2021

Location: Purdue Memorial Union North Ballroom

Dr. Marla E. Pérez-Davis serves as the director of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's John H. Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. Her lecture is entitled "Innovation in Flight: Past, Present and Future."

In her position, she is responsible for planning, organizing and directing the activities required in accomplishing the missions assigned to the center. The Glenn staff consists of more than 3,200 civil service and support contractor employees and has an annual budget of more than $900 million. Prior to becoming the director, Dr. Pérez-Davis served as Glenn’s deputy director.

From 2014 to June 2016, she was deputy director of the Research and Engineering Directorate. In this position, Pérez-Davis was responsible for leading, planning, coordinating and managing all phases of Glenn’s research and engineering activities to accomplish NASA missions.

Other key leadership positions Pérez-Davis held at Glenn include director of the Aeronautics Research Office from 2010 to 2014, where she served as the focal point for aeronautics research and provided project management, leadership and oversight in support of the Agency’s aeronautics research mission. Prior to that, she served as chief of the Project Liaison and Integration Office from 2007 to 2010, where her leadership resulted in streamlined business processes, improved contract management practices and improved timeliness response to safety assurance activities. She also served as the chief of the Electrochemistry Branch, where her leadership resulted in strengthening the energy storage and power competencies as well as the establishment of new partnerships in support of NASA missions.

Pérez-Davis is the recipient of numerous NASA awards including the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal and the prestigious Presidential Rank Award for Meritorious Executives.  She was also the recipient of the 2015 Crain’s Women of Note; the Top 25 Elite Business Women, Hispanic Business Magazine; Women of Color Career Achievement; Distinguished Alumni Award, Alumni Association of University of Puerto Rico Mayaguez; Women in Aerospace Award for Aerospace Awareness; Women of Color Technology Award for Career Achievement; and the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Santiago Rodriguez Diversity Award.  She is also a certified NASA Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.

Pérez-Davis, a native of Puerto Rico, earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico; a Master of Science degree from the University of Toledo and a doctoral degree from Case Western Reserve University in Chemical Engineering. In 2006, she completed NASA’s Senior Executive Service Candidate Development Program and the Office of Personnel Management Program.