Sam Bowring and Sara Seager elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Helen Hill
Tuesday, April 28, 2015

EAPS congratulates Samuel Bowring, Robert R. Shrock Professor of Geology, and Sara Seager, Class of 1941 Professor of Physics and Planetary Sciences, on their election to the American National Academy of Sciences. 

Members are elected to the National Academy of Sciences in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Membership is a widely accepted mark of excellence and is considered one of the highest honors that a scientist can receive.

A central theme of Sam Bowring’s work is using high-precision U-Pb zircon geochronology to examine rates of geological and biological processes in deep time. Areas of particular interest include the earliest history of the earth, the origin of continental crust and thermal evolution of orogenic belts, and the age and duration of major extinction events. His work also extends to environmental applications of tracer isotopes using the isotopic composition of Pb, Sr, and U in natural waters to examine mixing and the fate and transport of contaminants.

Bowring holds a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas (1985) and has been a professor at MIT since 1991. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Fellow of the Geochemical Society and the American Geophysical Union. He has been the Robert R. Shrock Professor of Geology since 2007.

Sara Seager is an astrophysicist and planetary scientist. Her science research focuses on theory, computation, and data analysis of exoplanets. Her research has introduced many new ideas to the field of exoplanet characterization, including work that led to the detection of exoplanetary atmospheres. Professor Seager's space instrumentation group is focusing on "ExoplanetSat", a 3U CubeSat capable of high precision pointing for transiting exoplanet discovery. 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. Professor Seager is a co-PI on the MIT-led TESS (Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite), a NASA Explorer Mission to be launched in 2018, and chairs the NASA Science and Technology Definition Team for a "Probe-class" Starshade and telescope system for direct imaging discovery and characterization of Earth analogs.

Seager holds a Ph.D. from Harvard University (1999) and joined the MIT faculty in 2007. She was the recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship in 2013 and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Seager has 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, Nature’s Top Ten in 2011, and Time Magazine’s 25 Most Influential in Space in 2012.

Bowring and Seager’s awards bring the EAPS tally of National Academicians to 12. They join Professors Ed Boyle (2008), Clark Burchfiel (1984), Kerry Emanuel (2007), Tim Grove (2014), Richard Lindzen (emeritus, 1977), Gordon Pettengill (emeritus, 1979), Susan Solomon (1992), Jack Wisdom (2008), Carl Wunsch (emeritus, 1978), and Maria Zuber (2004) in this august organization.