“The Search for Life in the Universe”
Saturday 4:00 pm :: Mitchell Physics Lecture Halls (MPHY 203 – MPHY 205)
Although humans have long wondered whether other worlds like the Earth existed in the universe, it has only been within the past few years that a scientific answer has begun to emerge. The recent boom in exoplanet discoveries, many from NASA’s Kepler Mission, has revealed that our Galaxy likely teems with other worlds. Some of these new planets may resemble our own Earth, but many are truly alien. Are these exoplanets really habitable, or even inhabited? How are planets discovered, and what can we learn from the planets of our own solar system that might help guide our search? Is the Earth typical? Join Dr. Lucianne Walkowicz on an exploration of exoplanet discoveries, and learn about the surprises nature may yet have in store.
About Lucianne Walkowicz
Lucianne Walkowicz is an astrophysicist and multimedia artist. Her work delves into a question both scientific, and fundamentally human: what is the nature of life in the universe? In passionate and electrifying talks, Walkowicz sheds light on how the thousands of newly-discovered planetary systems might lead to the discovery of life beyond planet Earth, and how the future of our home world depends on our personal connection to science.
Walkowicz strongly believes that the challenges of our future can only be addressed by diverse minds. Her data-driven artwork seeks to spark wonder, allowing the viewer to experience the insatiable curiosity that lies at the heart of science. She works to empower people from all walks of life through scientific discovery, fostering interdisciplinary collaborations, mentoring students and developing citizen science projects that put the tools of discovery in anyone’s hands.
Captivated by the mysteries of the natural world from a young age, Walkowicz is a lifelong explorer who began doing formal research at age 17. She has since been part of several space missions, including the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Kepler Mission, and is a leader in the future Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. Walkowicz holds a B.S. in Physics from Johns Hopkins University, a M.S. and Ph. D. from University of Washington. She was the Kepler Fellow at UC Berkeley, and the Henry Norris Russell Fellow at Princeton University, before joining the Astronomy Department at Adler Planetarium in 2014. She is a 2013 TED Senior Fellow, a 2011 National Academy of Sciences Kavli Fellow, and has been internationally recognized for her advocacy for conservation of dark night skies.