Lisa Kaltenegger showed how we can translate the detection of exoplanets and accumulate this scientific information to explore planets and life in the cosmos. She summed up the Carl Sagan Institute inauguration’s program: “We really are standing on the shoulders of giants to be able to make this next leap. This whole idea that we can live in a time when for the first time in history we can answer – or at least take a first stab – at the question ‘Are we alone?’ … If I could pick any time in human history to live, I’d pick exactly this time.”
Biography: Lisa Kaltenegger is Associate Professor at Cornell University and Founding Director of the Carl Sagan Institute. Her research focuses on rocky planets and super-Earths atmospheres in the habitable zone, as well as the spectral fingerprint of exoplanets that can be detected with the next generation of telescopes. Lisa Kaltenegger was one of America’s Young Innovators 2007 by Smithsonian Magazine, was selected as one of the European Commission’s Role Models for Women in Science and Research and recently received the Heinz Meier Leibnitz Prize for Physics of Germany in 2012 and the Christian Doppler prize for innovation in research among several other awards.