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Lisa Kaltenegger
Cornell University

Research Interests

Lisa Kaltenegger is a lecturer at Harvard Astrophysics Department and a Research Associate at Harvard. Her work focuses on characterizing extrasolar planets, modeling the atmospheric spectral fingerprints of terrestrial planets and specially indicators for life on them, depending on geological cycles, biological environments and age of evolution. Before accepting the appointment at Harvard, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics (CfA), and worked at the European Space Agency as part of the design team for the Darwin mission, a satellite that is designed to detect and characterize Earth-like extrasolar planets (similar to NASA’s Terrestrial Planet Finder Mission Concept).

Working with other members of the MIT NAI team, the Kaltenegger group will model the remotely detectable atmospheric fingerprint of extrasolar planets to a) identify spectral features of evolving complex multicellularity as well as b) the envrionments that can facilitate evolving complex multicellularity, setting the MIT NAI team’s work in context with current (JWST, Kepler) as well as planned NASA missions (e.g. TPF, NWO).

Lisa holds a PhD in astrophysics from Karl Franzens University Graz from 2003, a M.Sci in astronomy from 1999 and a M.Eng from University of Technology Graz from 2001, where she specialized in biophysics/biomedicine.

Recent awards include the Tinsley Visiting Scholarship at Univ. Texas Austin 2009, Paul Hertelendy Prize 2007 for outstanding young scientist at the CfA, America’s Young Innovator 2007 (Smithsonian Magazine), Highest academic honors of Austria for academic achievements (awarded personally by the Austrian president, 2005).


Presentation: “Assembling the puzzle: Reading the spectra of exo-planets & Relevance to NASA” (PDF, 1.4 Mb)

Recent relevant papers:
Detecting of geochemical cycles on exoplanets: Sulfur Cycle (ApJ sub)

Characterization of Terrestrial Planets (Astrobiology in press)

Earth as a Transiting Planet (ApJ 2009)

Earths Spectral Fingerprint through geol. Evolution (ApJ 2007)

NAI Project Collaborators