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College of Arts and Sciences

AAS names Kaltenegger as Fred Kavli plenary lecturer

By: Alisha Gupta
A&S Communications
March 12, 2020

Lisa Kaltenegger, associate professor in the astronomy department and director of the Carl Sagan Institute, will give the Fred Kavli Plenary Lecture at the American Astronomical Society (AAS) meeting June 1.

The society invites a lecturer to open each semiannual meeting with a presentation on recent research of great importance. Kaltenegger will talk about her work to characterize rocky exoplanets and identify life on other rocky worlds.

“Finding planets orbiting other stars has revolutionized our view of the Cosmos,” Kaltenegger said about the meeting. “For the first time in human history, we will have the tools to figure out whether we are alone in the universe.”

Kaltenegger’s research focuses on the search for signs of life on planets orbiting stars other than the sun. Her research focuses on characterizing rocky planets and super-Earths and their atmospheres in the habitable zone. Kaltenegger is also an expert in modeling potentially habitable worlds using Earth's history and its wide biota as key. Her work explores how we can use upcoming telescopes to observe and identify biological activity on other worlds.

The Carl Sagan Institute is an interdisciplinary institute, consisting of 35 faculty from 15 different departments, working together to develop the forensic toolkit to find life in the solar system as well as outside it on exoplanets or  moons.

Among other organizations, Kaltenegger served on the National Science Foundation’s Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee and on NASA’s senior review of operating missions.

Smithsonian Magazine named her one of America’s young innovators, and Time Magazine named her an innovator to watch. Kaltenegger was also selected as a role model for women in science and research by the European Commission. Asteroid 7734 Kaltenegger is named after her.