Outreach

Announcing the First-Ever SETI Institute Fellows

May 8, 2017, Mountain View, CA – At its first annual gala fundraiser, held on April 22nd, the SETI Institute recognized three dedicated individuals, universally respected for their exceptional contributions to scientific research and STEM education and outreach. Director of Education, Edna DeVore, Senior Astronomer Dr. Seth Shostak and Senior Scientist Mark Showalter, were honored as the first “Fellows of the Institute” at a special VIP ceremony.

For more than 30 years the SETI Institute has been asking questions such as, “How does life begin?”; “How does intelligence evolve?”; “Are there other planets like Earth?”; and “Are we alone?”. DeVore, Shostak, and Showalter have taken up the quest to understand the origin and nature of life in the universe, worked tirelessly to share and explain what they have discovered and learned, and have served as leaders, mentors, explorers, and teachers.

“Mark, Edna and Seth have distinguished themselves throughout their careers through groundbreaking work and an uncompromising commitment to excellence and innovation,” said Bill Diamond, President and CEO of the SETI Institute. “With a combined 63 years of service to the Institute, they have earned the respect of their colleagues and peers in the scientific and science education communities and it is entirely fitting to be honoring their achievements in naming them as the Institute’s first Fellows.”

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SETI Institute Fellows Seth Shostak, Mark Showalter, and Edna DeVore with CEO William Diamond Download full size image Photo credit: Seth Shostak

Edna DeVore is and astronomy educator, and former planetarium director, Today, she is the Director of Education at the SETI Institute. Just a few of her achievements include education and public outreach for NASA missions: Kuiper Airborne Observatory, NASA’s Astrobiology Institute, SOFIA—including the Airborne Astronomers Ambassadors program--and Kepler. Today, she leads the team that conceived of and is now implementing Reaching for the Stars: NASA Science for Girl Scouts, which created eclipse boxes for Girl Scout troops to prepare for the upcoming total eclipse of the sun, as well as the ongoing development of space science STEM badge projects. She also oversees the NSF-funded Research Experience for Undergraduates summer internship program that pairs students with SETI Institute scientist mentors. Edna has worked with the SETI Institute for 25 years, and has also served as acting CEO for two years.

“I am honored to be selected as one of the first Fellows of SETI Institute,” said Edna. “I truly enjoy being a part of the Institute community where my colleagues are always pursuing new questions and making new discoveries.  It’s exciting to learn with them, and to share our quest for life in the universe with students, teachers and the public.”

Edna is bringing the excitement and knowledge of science to new generations and it’s difficult to think of anything more important. 

Seth Shostak is perhaps best-known as host of the SETI Institute’s radio show and podcast, Big Picture Science. Seth is also the Institute’s Senior Astronomer, and provides oversight and guidance to Institute’s radio SETI observing programs. Seth is a prolific writer, having written several books, both for the academic and scientific community, and for the general public, as well as hundreds of articles on science and SETI for newspapers, magazines, and websites. He is a frequent guest speaker and teacher and presents at science and astronomy events throughout the country.  Seth is the editor of the SETI Institute magazine “Explorer” and can also be found on Capitol Hill testifying before congressional committees on science and technology.  

“I am pleased and honored to be named a Fellow of this organization, but to be honest the real honor is being able to work at an organization that is asking some really big questions – questions that everyone asks,” said Seth. “Had I been born a century earlier, the questions addressed by the SETI Institute would certainly be around, but it simply wouldn’t have been realistic to even hope for answers.  Today – with enormously improved technology and deeper scientific knowledge – we’ve moved from speculation to experimentation.  Now that’s pretty exciting.”

Seth has been with the SETI Institute for 26 years and through his work has intrigued, inspired, and informed countless people, young and old.

Mark Showalter is a Senior Scientist at the SETI Institute whose work is largely focused on the planetary rings and moons. Mark is known for his persistence in planetary image analysis, which is what led to his discoveries of three planetary rings and six moons. These include Saturn's tiny ring-moon, Pan, and the two smallest known moons of Pluto, Kerberos and Styx. Mark is a co-investigator on the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and the New Horizons mission to Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. He is also manages the Ring-Moon Systems data archive of NASA’s Planetary Data System.

“My 12 years at the SETI Institute have been the best of my career,said Mark. I am deeply honored, and I look forward to representing the Institute in my new capacity.

Mark has already discovered more moons than Galileo, but there are surely more discoveries to come.

The SETI Institute is grateful for the service, contributions, and passion that its new Fellows continue to share with the scientific community and the wider world. Future  Institute Fellows will be named based on extraordinary contributions and leadership.

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