Congratulations to Natalie Batalha, who has been named the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) Presidential chair for her work on the UCSC Astrobiology initiative. Batalha was selected as a principal investigator (PI) for an Interdisciplinary Consortia for Astrobiology Research (ICAR) award with the NASA Astrobiology Program in 2019. ICAR supports projects that describe an interdisciplinary approach to a single, compelling question in astrobiology, and are larger than the scope of individual Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences (ROSES) programs. ICAR projects may address a single or several 2015 Astrobiology Strategy goals.

Natalie Batalha is a professor of astronomy & astrophysics at UCSC and is the current director of the UCSC Astrobiology Program. She was also a co-investigator on NASA’s Kepler Mission, which exponentially increased the number of known planets around distant stars. Batalha is the PI for the ICAR award, “Follow the Volatiles: Tracing Chemical Species Relevant to Habitability from ProtoPlanetary Disks to Exoplanet Atmospheres.” This research is focused on understanding the inventory of volatiles in planetary building blocks, and the journey these volatiles take as they become incorporated into planetary atmospheres. Batalha’s research team is part of the NExSS research coordination network, and the results of their work could support future NASA flagship missions designed to identify biosignatures in exoplanet atmospheres.

Natalie Batalha’s appointment as the UCSC Presidential chair will continue through June 30, 2024. Click here to read a press release from UCSC.