WORCESTER (AP) -- Worcester Polytechnic Institute has named a former top NASA scientist as its president.

Trustees on Tuesday announced that Laurie Leshin has been selected to lead WPI out of an original pool of about 200 candidates.

Leshin is currently Dean of the School of Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.

Leshin joined RPI in 2011 after spending six years as a senior leader at NASA, first as director of science and exploration at the Goddard Space Flight Center, then as deputy director for science and technology at Goddard.

Prior to joining NASA, Leshin was a professor at Arizona State University focusing on geochemical analysis of meteorites, the origin of the solar system, water on Mars, and astrobiology.

Leshin succeeds Dennis Berkey, who stepped down in May after nine years.