Press Release

Walkowicz Named Astrobiology Chair at Kluge Center

By SpaceRef Editor
July 10, 2017
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Lucianne Walkowicz will hold the fifth Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology in the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress. She will begin on Oct. 1, 2017, and be in residence for 12 months.

Walkowicz is an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium, in Chicago, where she studies stellar magnetic activity and its influence on planetary habitability, using data from NASA’s Kepler Mission. Walkowicz holds a B.S. in Physics and Astronomy from Johns Hopkins University and an M.S. and Ph.D in Astronomy from the University of Washington. She is also a TED Senior Fellow and a practicing artist, working in a variety of media, from oil paint to sound.

At the Library of Congress, Walkowicz will work on a project titled “Fear of a Green Planet: Inclusive Systems of Thought for Human Exploration of Mars.” The project is designed to create an inclusive framework for human exploration of Mars, a vision that encompasses both cutting-edge research on Mars as a place of essential astrobiological significance, and that weaves in lessons from the diverse histories of exploration on our own planet. “The Library of Congress collections include unique legislative material, which can provide primary resources on the international and domestic policies governing human exploration of space” says Walkowicz, who will also convene public meetings, bringing together the brightest, most diverse minds working at the intersections of space and society today, to explore paths towards becoming an interplanetary species that enhances access to space, rather than mirroring our Earthbound inequalities.

The Astrobiology Chair at the Kluge Center is the result of collaboration between the NASA Astrobiology Program and the Library of Congress. It is named for Baruch “Barry” Blumberg, the late Kluge Center Scholars Council member, Nobel laureate and founding director of the NASA Astrobiology Institute. Funded by NASA, and managed by the Kluge Center in consultation with the NASA Astrobiology Institute, the program encourages chair holders to conduct research at the intersection of the science of astrobiology and its humanistic and societal implications. One senior researcher is appointed annually to be in residence at the John W. Kluge Center, to make use of the Library of Congress collections in exploration of these questions, as well as to convene related programs on astrobiology’s role in culture and society. Walkowicz becomes the fifth scholar to hold the Astrobiology Chair: previous chair holders include astrobiologist and planetary scientist David Grinspoon (2012-2013); the former chief historian at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Steven Dick (2013-2014); and historians of science Nathaniel Comfort (2015-2016) and Luis Campos (2016-2017).

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world’s best thinkers to stimulate and energize one another, to distill wisdom from the Library’s rich resources, and to interact with policymakers in Washington. For more information about the Kluge Center visit

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States—and extensive materials from around the world—both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at; and register creative works of authorship at

SpaceRef staff editor.