Seager awarded 2012 Sackler Prize

Professor Sara Seager has been selected as co-winner of the 2012 Raymond and Beverly Sackler Prize in the Physical Sciences. She shares the award for "observational or theoretical achievements in the study of extrasolar planets" with Prof. D. Charbonneau (Harvard). 

This annual prize is awarded alternately in the fields of Physics and Chemistry and is intended to "encourage dedication to science, originality, and excellence by rewarding outstanding young scientists". Sara's is in acknowledgment of her "brilliant theoretical studies, including analysis of the atmospheres and internal compositions of extra-solar planets". The Prize Ceremony is scheduled for June 12th, on the Tel Aviv University campus. The laureates will split the $100,000 prize award. 

Seager, who holds a Professorship in EAPS as well as in Physics, is an astrophysicist and planetary scientist as well as a leading figure in exoplanetary research. Her planetary science research focuses on theory, computation, and data analysis of exoplanet atmospheres, interiors, and biosignature gases. Her research has introduced many new ideas to the field of exoplanet characterization, including work that led to the first detection of an exoplanet atmosphere.

Professor Seager’s space instrumentation group is developing “ExoplanetSat” a 3U CubeSat capable of high precision pointing, with the science goal of detecting small transiting exoplanets orbiting bright, sun-like stars. The prototype is intended to be the first of a planned fleet of nanosatellites, aimed to demonstrate the graduated growth of a constellation as a new paradigm for space science missions. In addition to being the PI of ExoplanetSat, Professor Seager is co-leading CommCube, a platform to demonstrate novel small satellite space communication technology, and is involved in the MIT-Harvard REXIS instrument on NASA’s OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission.

Sara Seager received her B.Sc. in mathematics and physics from the University of Toronto in 1994. She earned a Ph.D. in astronomy from Harvard University in 1999, where she investigated recombination in the early Universe before moving to the then brand-new field of exoplanets. Before joining MIT in 2007, Professor Seager spent four years on the senior research staff at the Carnegie Institution of Washington preceded by three years at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ. Professor Seager is on the advisory board for Arykd Astronautics and the Rosalind Franklin Society.

Seager was awarded the American Astronomical Society’s Helen B. Warner prize in 2007 for her work on exoplanet atmospheres and, most recently, was named an AAAS Fellow. Often in the news, she has also been recognized in the media by Popular Science magazine's Fifth Annual Brilliant Ten in 2006, Discover magazine's "Best 20 under 40" in 2008 and she was named Nature's top Ten in 2011. 

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