Astrophysicist Natalie Batalha will give annual Mandel Lecture on June 5

Free public talk will focus on Batalha's research on exoplanets and the search for life on other planets

Natalie Batalha
Natalie Batalha

Award-winning astrophysicist Natalie Batalha will give a free public lecture, entitled "Lava Worlds to Living Worlds: How a NASA Mission Sparked the Search for Life Beyond Earth," on Wednesday, June 5, at 7:30 p.m. at the Rio Theatre in Santa Cruz.

Batalha, a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, served as the scientific lead for NASA's highly successful Kepler mission, which discovered more than 2,500 planets around other stars. On the Kepler mission, she identified planets that might be able to sustain life and led the analysis that yielded the discovery in 2011 of the first confirmed rocky planet outside our solar system. In 2017, Time magazine named her among the 100 most influential people in the world. She received the UCSC Alumni Achievement Award in 2018 and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2019.

After the Kepler space telescope retired in October 2018, Batalha left NASA to join the faculty at UC Santa Cruz, returning to where she had received her Ph.D. in astrophysics in 1997. She continues to study planets orbiting other stars in the galaxy, investigating questions of planetary habitability and searching for evidence of life beyond the solar system.

This lecture is presented as part of the Mandel Lecture Series, which promotes public awareness and appreciation for astronomy. For more information or for disability-related needs, please call (831) 459-2192.