This website is no longer actively maintained
Some material and features may be unavailable
Big Ideas
Home Big Thinkers Big Ideas Great Failures About the Series

Select a Big Thinker

Joan Scott
Field of Expertise

Sara Seager is an astrophysicist with a research focus on both extrasolar planet atmospheres and cosmology. Her recent focus has been on writing detailed computer models and using them to both guide and interpret observations of extrasolar giant planet atmospheres. One of her predictions led to the first extrasolar planet atmosphere detection in 2001. In addition, Seager co-runs a search for transiting short-period extrasolar giant planets. She is involved in many planned and proposed space missions, including NASA's planned Terrestrial Planet Finder which is being designed to detect and characterize Earth-like planets orbiting nearby stars. One of Seager's long term goals is to find signs of life, via extremely remote sensing of Earth-like planet atmospheres.

Educational Background

Sara Seager was born in Toronto, Canada. She received a BSc in Mathematics and Physics from the University of Toronto in 1994. Seager earned her Ph.D. in Astronomy from Harvard University in 1999, where her thesis was one of the first ever to be written on extrasolar planets. During her graduate work, Seager also completed a thorough investigation of the physics of hydrogen and helium recombination in the early universe, resulting in a detailed computer model that has become the standard in the field.


Seager spent three years at the Institute for Advanced study as a Keck Fellow and Long Term Member. Since August 2002, Seager has been on the faculty at the Carnegie Institution of Washington. She is a member of the American Astronomical Society as well as the Canadian Astronomical Society.

Print this page
© 2003 Educational Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

Thirteen/WNET Big Ideas