MOUNTAIN VIEW – The SETI Institute announces the appointment of Nathalie Cabrol as the lead for its multidisciplinary research programs into the nature and distribution of life beyond Earth.  She will head the Institute’s Carl Sagan Center for the Study of Life in the Universe.

Cabrol, who has been with the Institute since 1998, is an astrobiologist specializing in planetary science, and is deeply involved in efforts to explore and characterize Mars.  She also develops exploration strategies for the moons of the outer solar system where the conditions essential for the origin and sustenance of life are present.  She is conducting research at Mars analog sites in the Andes, and in particular the adaptation strategies of life in these extreme environments.  Cabrol was the spokesperson for the selection of Gusev crater as the landing site for the Spirit Rover, and is a science team member for NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover mission.

“Over its thirty-year history, the SETI Institute has grown from a group of visionary scientists who search for evidence of technologically advanced civilizations to an organization embracing the full breadth of astrobiology research,” says President and CEO Bill Diamond.  “This includes solar system exploration, the discovery of exoplanets, fundamental astrophysics, and both radio and optical SETI experiments.”

Cabrol has extensively published in academic journals, and is the author of several books on the subjects of planetary science and terrestrial extreme environments.  She is the recipient of NASA and other research awards. Cabrol is a Wings Worldquest Carey Fellow and was elected Air and Space Wings Worldquest Woman of Discovery. She is a frequent lecturer in both academic and public settings.

“Our Institute is often associated with SETI efforts only,” notes Senior Astronomer Seth Shostak.  “But in fact the organization is heavily involved with a truly catholic range of studies, all bearing on the scientific study of life.  This new appointment recognizes that breadth of effort and interest, and will increase cross-pollination of ideas and effort among the science teams.”

Research programs at the SETI Institute include involvement in past and ongoing Mars missions, participation in the New Horizons Mission to Pluto, climate and geo-science, the study of asteroids and meteors, the hunt for, and characterization of, exoplanets with the Kepler telescope, discoveries of planetary moons and rings, and both optical and radio SETI searches, the latter using the Institute’s own Allen Telescope Array.  The Institute also investigates and sponsors symposia on the societal consequences of the discovery of extraterrestrial life.

“We are building a new, vibrant and more relevant SETI Institute on the foundation of a proud past,” says Diamond.  With Nathalie’s leadership of the Carl Sagan Center, we bring new strength and vitality to our mission of understanding the origins and nature of life in the universe.”  

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About SETI Institute

Founded in 1984, the SETI Institute is a non-profit, multi-disciplinary research and education organization whose mission is to explore, understand, and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe. Our research encompasses the physical and biological sciences and leverages expertise in data analytics, machine learning and advanced signal detection technologies.  The Institute is a distinguished research partner for industry, academia and government agencies, including NASA and NSF.