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A New Path to New Earths


Photo of Michael Turner


Michael Turner

Assistant Director for Mathematical and Physical Sciences
National Science Foundation

Contact information:
NSF Directorate for Mathematical & Physical Sciences
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22230
Phone: (703) 292-8800
Fax: (703) 292-9151
Email: mturner@nsf.gov

Michael Turner is the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. He also holds appointments in the Department of Physics and Enrico Fermi Institute at the university. For more than 20 years he was member of the scientific staff at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

Turner received his Bachelor of Science in physics from the California Institute of Technology (1971) and his doctorate in physics from Stanford University (1978). His association with the University of Chicago began in 1978 as an Enrico Fermi Fellow, and in 1980, he joined the faculty. Turner is a fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, as well as a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

Turner has been honored with the Helen B. Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society, the Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society, the Halley Lectureship at Oxford University and the Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching at Chicago. Turner has served on or chaired many advisory committees for the NRC, DoE, NSF and NASA. Since 1984, he has been involved in the governance of the Aspen Center for Physics, serving as president from 1989 to 1993. He served on the board of trustees of the Illinois Math and Science Academy from 1998-2003. Turner's transparencies were featured in a one-man show at the CfPA Gallery.

Turner is a cosmologist whose research focuses on the earliest moments of the Universe. He has made important contributions to inflationary Universe theory, understanding of dark matter and the origin of structure. Turner and Edward Kolb helped to establish the Theoretical Astrophysics Group at Fermilab and wrote the monograph "The Early Universe." Eleven of Turner's former students and postdocs hold faculty positions at universities in Canada and the United States.

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Photo of Scott Tremaine


Scott Tremaine

Chair, Department of Astrophysical Sciences
Princeton University

Contact information:
Department of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544-1001 USA
Phone: (609) 258-3800
Fax: (609) 258-1020
Email: tremaine@astro.princeton.edu

Scott Tremaine received his doctorate from Princeton in 1975. He held postdoctoral positions at Caltech, Cambridge and the Institute for Advanced Study, and faculty positions at MIT and the University of Toronto, where he was director of the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics from 1985 to 1996. He returned to Princeton in 1997, and is currently chair of the Department of Astrophysical Sciences. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of London and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. His research is focused on the formation and dynamics of galaxies and the formation and evolution of planetary systems. He is not a member of the research team that is reporting results today.

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Photo of Bohdan Paczynski


Bohdan Paczynski

Lyman Spitzer, Jr., Professor of Astrophysics
Princeton University

Contact information:
Department of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ 08544-1001 USA
Email: bp@astro.princeton.edu

Bohdan Paczynski, Andrzej Udalski of Warsaw University Observatory and their colleagues began the Optical Gravitational Lensing Experiment (OGLE) in 1997 with NSF support. The project uses a 50-inch (1.3 meter) telescope based at the Carnegie Institution of Washington's Las Campanas Observatory in Chile to search for variability in the light coming from stars. The project has been critical for using gravitational microlensing to search for extrasolar planets.

Paczynski received his education at Warsaw University, earning a master's degree in astronomy in 1962, a doctorate in Astronomy in 1964 and a docent degree in astronomy in 1967. From 1962 until 1982, Paczynski was a researcher at the Institute of Astronomy at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Warsaw (now renamed N. Copernicus Astronomical Center). In 1982, he arrived at Princeton where he is now the Lyman Spitzer, Jr., Professor of Astrophysics in the Department of Astrophysical Sciences. Among the numerous honors he has received, Paczynski has been awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in London, the Marian Smoluchowski Medal of the Polish Physical Society and the Henry Draper Medal of the National Academy of Sciences.

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Photo of Jean Philippe Beaulieu


Jean-Philippe Beaulieu

Charge de Recherche CNRS
Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris

Contact information:
Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, 98 bis, boulevard Arago, F-75014, Paris, France
Phone: (33)
Fax: (33)
Email: EMAIL

Jean Philippe Beaulieu was born on Mar. 31, 1969, in Bordeaux, France. He received his degree in engineering (signal processing) in 1991 and a Ph.D. in astrophysics in 1995. Since 1999, he has been the "Charge de Recherche CNRS" at Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, (permanent research position in Astrophysics). He is Principal Investigator of the PLANET collaboration.

Beaulieu received the "prix Louis Arman" from the French "Academie des Sciences" in November 1996 for his contribution to the distance scale. (This prize is given once a year by the Academie des Sciences to one young researcher coming from one of the following fields: biology, mathematics, physics or astronomy).

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Photo of Vijay Kumar


David P. Bennett

Research Associate Professor, Observational and Theoretical Astrophysics
University of Notre Dame

Contact information:
University of Notre Dame, Physics Department, 225 Nieuwland Science Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556 USA
Phone: (574) 631-8298
Cell: (574) 315-6621
Email: bennett@nd.edu

David P. Bennett received his Bachelor of Science in 1981 from Case Western Reserve University and his doctorate in 1986 from Stanford University.

Bennett's research is focused on gravitational microlensing by stellar and planetary mass objects in the Milky Way and nearby galaxies. Microlensing refers to gravitational lensing when the lensed image separation is unobservably small. Time variable magnification (due to the lens motion) is observable. Microlensing is particularly useful for the study of objects that emit little or no light, such as the dark matter that dominates the mass of the galaxy, extrasolar planets and isolated black holes.

Bennett was an initiator and founding member of the MACHO Project, having suggested the idea to MACHO team leader Charles Alcock. The MACHO team discovered the first known gravitational microlensing event in 1993. Theoretical work by Bennett (in collaboration with Sun Hong Rhie) was the first to show that Earth-mass planets could be detected by gravitational microlensing, and observational work by a group led by Bennett was the first to demonstrate sensitivity to Neptune-mass planets in Jupiter-like orbits. Bennett also participated in the discovery of the first two extrasolar planets to be discovered by the microlensing method.

Much of Bennett's current research effort is focused on the Microlensing Planet Finder (MPF), which is a proposed space-based observatory which would use the microlensing method to survey the Galaxy for planets down to the mass of Mars at all orbital separations beyond that of Venus. MPF would complement NASA's Kepler mission, which is most sensitive to planets in inner orbits and overlaps with MPF's sensitivity to low-mass planets in Venus and Earth-like orbits. Bennett is the principal investigator for the MPF mission, and he leads a science team that includes a group from Goddard Space Flight Center, led by John Mather, as well as leading members of all the ground-based microlensing groups. MPF's industrial partners include Lockheed-Martin, ITT and Rockwell Scientific.

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