Nov 07, 2023
Dr. Karen Meech
Visitors from outside our solar system

Bio - Karen Meech  

Karen Meech is an astronomer/astrobiologist who investigates how habitable worlds form, exploring the bigger picture of whether there is life elsewhere. Her work has embraced the power of interdisciplinary science and she is combining geological field work, geochemistry, astronomical observations, theory and space mission concepts to address fundamental questions about how Earth got its water. She began her career in physics and astronomy, with an undergraduate degree in Space Physics from Rice University and a Ph.D. in planetary physics from MIT in 1987 studying comets, after which she joined the faculty at the University of Hawai’i.  She has served as the Graduate program chair from 2018-2021, and was the Interim Director for the IfA in 2021.  She has won many awards for her work, including most recently the Dannie Heineman prize from the American Astronomical Society.  She was Co-Investigator on three comet missions:  Deep Impact, EPOXI and Stardust-NeXT.  She has been leading the development of a Discovery class ($0.5 billion) space mission to study icy material in the asteroid belt. She also lead the team to characterize the first interstellar object that was discovered passing through our solar system.