Participants

G. Seth Shostak, director of the Center for SETI Research (CSR) at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California, is a SETI senior astronomer who searches for evidence of intelligent life in space. His dedication to informing the public about science in general, and astrobiology in particular, has led to his recognition as a leading contributor to public education. He hosts SETI’s weekly radio program Big Picture Science, which features the latest research in a variety of scientific fields, and through the program’s monthly “Skeptics Check,” he champions critical inquiry and energetically debunks pseudoscience. A graduate of Princeton University, Dr. Shostak earned a Ph.D. in astrophysics at the California Institute of Technology in 1972. He joined the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, Virginia, as a research associate, and then spent thirteen years on the astronomy faculty at the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute (KAI) at the State University of Groningen in The Netherlands. Here he continued his study of the rotation of galaxies using the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope. His work showed that spiral galaxies rotated very quickly in their outer regions, and this discovery was a major, early indicator of the existence of dark matter. While at KAI, he also used an antenna array to search for artificially produced signals coming from the center of the Milky Way. In 1983, Dr. Shostak founded and ran a company in Groningen producing computer animation for television. Returning to the United States in 1988, he worked on image database software in Silicon Valley. He joined SETI in 1991 as a public program scientist, and in 2001 was appointed to his present position as a senior astronomer. He was named director of the CSR last year. A former chair of the International Academy of Astronautics SETI Permanent Study Group, Dr. Shostak is a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the recipient of the Klumpke-Roberts Award of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for his contributions to better public understanding and appreciation of astronomy. He is the author of more than sixty papers published in scientific journals and more than 400 popular articles on science and technology. He has edited and contributed to a half dozen books, and is the author of Sharing the Universe: Perspectives on Extraterrestrial Life (1998), which was a Book of the Month Club selection, (with Alexandra Barnett) Cosmic Company (2003), and Confessions of an Alien Hunter: A Scientist’s Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, a wide-ranging study of the hunt for life elsewhere in the universe, which was published by National Geographic in 2009, as well as (with Jeff Bennett) Life in the Universe (2003, 2007, 2012, and 2015), an astrobiology textbook.