|Born||January 16, 1944|
|Alma mater||University of California at Berkeley
Jill Cornell Tarter (born January 16, 1944) is an American astronomer and the former director of the Center for SETI Research, holding the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI at the SETI Institute. Astronomer Dr. Jill Tarter is the holder of the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI.
Tarter received her undergraduate education at Cornell University, where she earned a Bachelor of Engineering Physics Degree, and a Master's degree and PhD in astronomy from the University of California at Berkeley.
Tarter has worked on a number of major scientific projects, most relating to the search for extraterrestrial life. As a graduate student, she worked on the radio-search project SERENDIP, and created the corresponding backronym, "Search for Extraterrestrial Radio Emissions from Nearby Developed Intelligent Populations." She was project scientist for NASA's High Resolution Microwave Survey (HRMS) in 1992 and 1993 and subsequently director of Project Phoenix (HRMS reconfigured) under the auspices of the SETI Institute. She was co-creator with Margaret Turnbull of the HabCat in 2002, a principal component of Project Phoenix. Tarter has published dozens of technical papers and lectures extensively both on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and the need for proper science education. She is credited with coining the term "brown dwarf" for the classification of stars with insufficient mass to sustain hydrogen fusion. She has spent 35 years in the quest for extraterrestrial life and announced her retirement in 2012.
In 2011, Tarter delivered a talk, “Intelligent Life in the Universe: Is Anybody Out There?,” at the first Starmus Festival in the Canary Islands. The Festival, founded by astronomer Garik Israelian, is a blend of astronomy, allied sciences, music, and art, and Tarter subsequently joined the Starmus Board of Directors, along with Israelian, astrophysicist and Queen founding guitarist Brian May, theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, and others. Her 2011 talk was published in the book Starmus: 50 Years of Man in Space.
Honors and awards
Tarter's work in astrobiology and her success as a female scientist have garnered achievement awards from several scientific organizations.
- Awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by Women in Aerospace in 1989.
- Received two public service medals from NASA.
- Was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2002 and a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences in 2003.
- Received the Adler Planetarium Women in Space Science Award in 2003.
- Was awarded the Telluride Tech Festival Award of Technology in 2001.
- Was named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2004.
- Received Wonderfest's Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization in 2005.
- Recipient of a 2009 TED Prize.
- Elected a Fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.
In popular culture
Tarter's astronomical work is illustrated in Carl Sagan's novel Contact. In the film version of Contact, the protagonist Ellie Arroway is played by Jodie Foster. Tarter conversed with the actress for months before and during filming, and Arroway was "largely based" on Tarter's work. She has also been featured in John Boswell's Symphony of Science music video, "The Poetry of Reality (An Anthem for Science)".
On October 20, 2006, Tarter appeared on the Point of Inquiry podcast to discuss the question: "Are we alone?". Tarter stated "Humans will have a different view about being human if and when we know the answer to the 'Are we alone?' question"
In May 2013, the Science Laureates of the United States Act of 2013 was introduced into Congress. Jill Tarter was listed by one commentator as a possible nominee for the position of Science Laureate, if the act were to pass.
- SETI Institute Official Website – Jill Tarter biography
- Overbye, Dennis (18 June 2012). "A Career Waiting for E.T. to Phone". New York Times. Retrieved 19 June 2012.
- "Alien hunter retires after 35-year quest for E.T.". Fox News. May 22, 2012. Retrieved May 22, 2012.
- Space.com: "Dr. Jill Tarter: Looking to Make 'Contact'". Retrieved October 27, 2008.[dead link]
- Brown dwarf – History Retrieved September 24, 2010
- CNN: "Scientist probes outer space for aliens". CNN. April 19, 2004. Retrieved October 27, 2008.
- "Past Honorees". Telluride Tech Festival. Retrieved October 15, 2011.
- TIME Magazine: "TIME 100: Jill Tarter". Time. April 26, 2004. Retrieved October 27, 2008.
- "Sagan Prize Recipients". wonderfest.org. 2011. Retrieved September 10, 2011.
- "TED Prizes Go From Deep Sea to Deep Space". Retrieved October 27, 2008.
- "CSI Fellows and Staff". Retrieved August 7, 2011.
- John Boswell (melodysheep), "The Poetry of Reality (An Anthem for Science)" on YouTube, February 25, 2010.
- DJ Grothe (October 20, 2006). "Jill Tarter - Are We Alone?". www.pointofinquiry.org (Podcast). Center for Inquiry. Retrieved May 18, 2014.
- Marlow, Jeffrey (9 May 2013). "The Science Laureate of the United States". Wired Magazine. Retrieved 12 September 2013.
- Lecture about long-term SETI strategies presented to the Long Now Foundation (Ogg Vorbis format).
- Finding intelligent life with telescopes and computers, podcast 2008.
- Talk on the Allen Telescope Array at the Silicon Valley Astronomy Lectures on YouTube
- Talk entitled "Why the search for alien intelligence matters", presented at the TED2009 conference
- Interview posted at the TED Blog
- A brief bio
- Profile of Jill Tarter, in COSMOS magazine
- Jill Tarter retires as Director of SETI
- "SETI: Astronomy as a Contact Sport - A conversation with Jill Tarter", Ideas Roadshow, 2013