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Jill Tarter
Jill Tarter at TED in 2009.jpg
Tarter at TED. Photograph by Steve Jurvetson.
Born (1944-01-16) January 16, 1944 (age 70)
Nationality United States
Alma mater University of California at Berkeley
Cornell University
Occupation Astronomer

Jill Cornell Tarter (born January 16, 1944) is an American astronomer and the outgoing director of the Center for SETI Research, holding the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI at the SETI Institute.[1][2][3]


Tarter received her undergraduate education at Cornell University, where she earned a Bachelor of Engineering Physics Degree, and a Master's degree and PhD in astronomy from the University of California at Berkeley.[4]

Astronomy career[edit]

Tarter has worked on a number of major scientific projects, most relating to the search for extraterrestrial life. As a graduate student, she worked on the radio-search project SERENDIP, and created the corresponding backronym, "Search for Extraterrestrial Radio Emissions from Nearby Developed Intelligent Populations." She was project scientist for NASA's High Resolution Microwave Survey (HRMS) in 1992 and 1993 and subsequently director of Project Phoenix (HRMS reconfigured) under the auspices of the SETI Institute. She was co-creator with Margaret Turnbull of the HabCat in 2002, a principal component of Project Phoenix. Tarter has published dozens of technical papers and lectures extensively both on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence and the need for proper science education. She is credited with coining the term "brown dwarf" for the classification of stars with insufficient mass to sustain hydrogen fusion.[5] She has spent 35 years in the quest for extraterrestrial life and announced her retirement in 2012.[3]

Honors and awards[edit]

Tarter's work in astrobiology and her success as a female scientist have garnered achievement awards from several scientific organizations.

In popular culture[edit]

Tarter's astronomical work is illustrated in Carl Sagan's novel Contact. In the film version of Contact, the protagonist Ellie Arroway is played by Jodie Foster. Tarter conversed with the actress for months before and during filming, and Arroway was "largely based" on Tarter's work.[4] She has also been featured in John Boswell's Symphony of Science music video, "The Poetry of Reality (An Anthem for Science)".[12]

In May 2013, the Science Laureates of the United States Act of 2013 (H.R. 1891; 113th Congress) was introduced into Congress. Jill Tarter was listed by one commentator as a possible nominee for the position of Science Laureate, if the act were to pass.[13]


  1. ^ SETI Institute Official Website – Jill Tarter biography
  2. ^ Overbye, Dennis (18 June 2012). "A Career Waiting for E.T. to Phone". New York Times. Retrieved 19 June 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Alien hunter retires after 35-year quest for E.T.". Fox News. May 22, 2012. Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Space.com: "Dr. Jill Tarter: Looking to Make 'Contact'". Retrieved October 27, 2008. [dead link]
  5. ^ Brown dwarf – History Retrieved September 24, 2010
  6. ^ CNN: "Scientist probes outer space for aliens". CNN. April 19, 2004. Retrieved October 27, 2008. 
  7. ^ "Past Honorees". Telluride Tech Festival. Retrieved October 15, 2011. 
  8. ^ TIME Magazine: "TIME 100: Jill Tarter". Time. April 26, 2004. Retrieved October 27, 2008. 
  9. ^ "Sagan Prize Recipients". wonderfest.org. 2011. Retrieved September 10, 2011. 
  10. ^ "TED Prizes Go From Deep Sea to Deep Space". Retrieved October 27, 2008. 
  11. ^ "CSI Fellows and Staff". Retrieved August 7, 2011. 
  12. ^ John Boswell (melodysheep), "The Poetry of Reality (An Anthem for Science)", February 25, 2010.
  13. ^ Marlow, Jeffrey (9 May 2013). "The Science Laureate of the United States". Wired Magazine. Retrieved 12 September 2013. 

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jill_Tarter — Please support Wikipedia.
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16753 videos foundNext > 

Hunting Extraterrestrials: Interview with SETI Icon Jill Tarter

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. No other space-related program so effectively stirs our emotions, symbolizes our sense of hope and optimism for...

Jill Tarter: Why the search for alien intelligence matters

http://www.ted.com The SETI Institute's Jill Tarter makes her TED Prize wish: to accelerate our search for cosmic company. Using a growing array of radio tel...

First Contact - Marc Kaufman, Jill Tarter, Frank Drake, Seth Shostak (SETI Talks)

SETI Talks Archive: http://seti.org/talks For untold centuries, people have looked to the distant skies in search of life -- be it God-like or heavenly, demo...

ATA - Jill Tarter (SETI Talks)

SETI Talks Archive: http://seti.org/talks This talk will put the ATA into context with the rest of the SETI activities around the world and describe the init...

Dr. Jill Tarter - Are We Alone? - The Forum at Poly Fall 2011

For more information see: http://theforumatpoly.com/talks/jilltarter For additional Talks please visit: http://theforumatpoly.com Aliens abound on the movie ...

Calculating the odds of intelligent alien life - Jill Tarter

View full lesson: http://ed.ted.com/lessons/calculating-the-odds-of-intelligent-alien-life Could there be intelligent life on other planets? This question ha...

Dr. Jill Tarter at Silicon Valley Leaders Symposium

Dr. Jill Tarter, Director, Center for SETI Research, SETI Institute Silicon Valley Leaders Symposium Spring 2011 Hosted by Charles W. Davidson College of Eng...

Jill Tarter's call to join the SETI Search (TED Prize! 2009)

Jill Tarter's call to join the SETI Search (TED Prize! 2009) 질 타터의 'SETI 탐사로의 초대' (TED Prize 수상자!) Astronomer Jill Tarter is director of the SETI (Search for...

Jill Tarter on the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence

Dr. Jill Tarter, Director at the Centre for SETI Research, discusses the ongoing Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence and how new tools including the Al...

Jill Tarter

16753 videos foundNext > 

5 news items

SETI Institute

SETI Institute
Tue, 15 Apr 2014 17:56:15 -0700

... NASA press conference discussing her recent work. Tom Barclay, research scientist at Bay Area Environmental Research Institute at Ames, and Jason Rowe, research scientist at SETI Institute, will also join the conversion hosted by special guest Jill ...
Arizona Daily Star
Sun, 23 Mar 2014 14:03:14 -0700

Astronomer Jill Tarter, who has been involved in the search for more than 35 years, said the discovery of exoplanets in the last 15 years has refined her target area. Tarter recently stepped down as director of the SETI Institute to spend time raising ...
The Daily Galaxy (blog)
Sat, 22 Mar 2014 10:21:27 -0700

... the conference include John Baross (U. Washington), Natalie Batalha (NASA Ames), Phil Hinz (UA), Markus Kasper (ESO), Lynn Rothschild (NASA Ames), Lisa Kaltenegger (MPIA, CfA), Peter Lawson (NASA JPL), Sara Seager (MIT), and Jill Tarter (SETI).
Deccan Chronicle
Fri, 28 Mar 2014 09:07:30 -0700

Finally, Jill Tarter of the SETI Institute to make her case for the existence of ET, theatrically held up a glass she'd just filled with water from the sea. Obviously it didn't contain any large marine life we typically associate with oceans. But that ...

El Periódico de Canarias

El Periódico de Canarias
Wed, 02 Apr 2014 05:30:13 -0700

Jill Tarter (EEUU) es directora del Centro de investigación para el SETI (Búsqueda de Inteligencia Extraterrestre) en el Instituto SETI en California (EE.UU.), tiene la Cátedra Bernard M. Oliver de la SETI y es miembro de la Asociación Americana para ...

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