Participants

The Class of 1941 Professor of Planetary Science and Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Sara Seager is engaged in research focusing on theory, computation, and data analysis of exoplanets. Her work has introduced many new ideas to the field of exoplanet characterization and led to the first discovery of a planet with an atmosphere orbiting a star other than the sun. While continuing to create and refine theoretical models of exoplanet atmospheres and interiors, she helped develop “nanosatellites” for space research, and she is a co-investigator on TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite), an MIT-directed NASA mission that is scheduled for launch in 2017. Dr. Seager, a Canadian by birth, graduated from the University of Toronto and earned a Ph.D. in astronomy at Harvard University in 1999. She went on to the Institute of Advanced Study in Princeton, where she held a post-doctoral Keck Fellowship, then joined the senior research staff of the Carnegie Institution in Washington, D.C. Dr. Seager was appointed to the MIT faculty in 2007 as an associate professor of physics and of planetary science, was made a full professor two years later, and also held the Ellen Swallow Richards Professorship until she was named to her current chair in 2012. She recently chaired the NASA Probe Class External Occulter Science and Technology Definition Team and served as co-chair of the Beyond JWST (James Webb Space Telescope) Committee of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy. Recipient of Harvard’s Bok Prize in Astronomy, the Helen B. Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society, and the Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in Physical Science given by Tel Aviv University, she was chosen as a MacArthur Fellow in 2013. Dr. Seager is an honorary member of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and, this past spring, she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. The author of some 270 papers published in scientific journals, she is the editor of Exoplanets (2010) and the author of Exoplanet Atmospheres: Physical Processes, the first textbook to describe the basic physical processes common to all planetary atmospheres, which was published by Princeton University Press in 2010.