Dr. Leonard Yowell ’08

Leonard currently works at NASA Johnson Space Center (JSC) in the Strategic Opportunities & Partnership Development Office. Over the past ten years he has led several innovation activities and initiatives, in advanced technology development (applied nanotechnology), organizational transformation, and strategy. He holds an MBA and a Ph.D. in Materials Science from Rice University, an M.S. in Aeronautics from Stanford University, and a B.S. in Aeronautical Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

Ever since being on active duty in the U.S. Navy, Leonard had a desire to complete an MBA at a top-notch school. In 2005, friend and fellow 2008 grad Graham Randall brought up the prospect of a Rice MBA. At that time at NASA, Leonard was in a leadership development assignment as the Assistant to the JSC Center Director and was encouraged to pursue the MBA due to a need for business skills within the government’s technical workforce. Admittedly, he started the program mainly wanting to be conversant in business and maybe even pick up some skills, however the experience became transformational. The exposure to the stellar strategy curriculum in particular started Leonard on a path toward innovation and organizational transformation in government, a path he is currently on and passionate about.

“I’ll admit, tackling the business model of a federal government agency, even one as well-regarded as NASA, is an enormous challenge. My hope is that more and more federal employees and contractors will invest their time and resources into the Rice MBA.”

As an officer in the U.S. Navy, Leonard served in a number of active duty and reserve assignments both at sea and abroad. He was most recently recalled to active duty in the Navy to serve as a team chief within the Targets Division of U.S. Central Command, supporting coalition forces in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom. Prior to moving to Houston, Leonard served as the officer-in-charge of the Navy's Consolidated Reconnaissance Operations Facility in Souda Bay, Crete, Greece. He has also served with the secretary of the Navy's Office of Legislative Affairs and as the tactical reconnaissance officer on the Air Wing Staff aboard the USS George Washington.

Leonard’s faith in Christ represents the cornerstone of his life, providing hope and strength in both good times and the not-so-good times. Most recently, as a leader in one of Houston’s many Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) classes, he has enjoyed sharing the truths of scripture with interested adults and children. BSF classes around the world study the same scripture every week through the academic year, focusing this year on the book of Genesis. Leonard currently lives in the Rice University area with his wonderful wife, Eliza and their dog Chase.