Astronomer Lucianne Walkowicz will give annual Mandel Lecture on May 10

Lucianne Walkowicz

Astronomer and artist Lucianne Walkowicz will discuss the search for life in the universe in a free public lecture on Tuesday, May 10, at 6:30 p.m. at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz.

An astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago, Walkowicz studies stellar magnetic activity and its influence on planetary habitability using data from NASA's Kepler Mission. She is also a 2012 TED Senior Fellow and an artist working in a variety of media, including comics, oil paint, and sound. Her talk, "The Search for Life in the Universe," is presented by the UC Santa Cruz Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and UC Observatories as part of the Mandel Lecture Series.

Although humans have long wondered whether other worlds like the Earth exist in the universe, only within the past few years has a scientific answer begun to emerge. The recent boom in exoplanet discoveries, many from NASA's Kepler Mission, suggests that our galaxy teems with other worlds. Some of these new planets may resemble our own Earth, but many are truly alien. Walkowicz will take the audience on a tour of exoplanet discoveries and discuss how astronomers are investigating these alien planets and searching for evidence of life.

Walkowicz earned a B.S. in physics and astronomy from Johns Hopkins University and an M.S. and Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Washington. She currently directs the data science fellowship program of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope.

The Mandel Lecture Series, generously sponsored by Steve Mandel and Carol Foote, promotes public awareness and appreciation for astronomy. For more information about this lecture, call (831) 459-3581.