Jill Tarter Elected President of California Academy of Sciences

Jill Tarter ATA

She’s a renowned SETI researcher, and member of the SETI Institute’s Board of Trustees.  And now Jill Tarter has been selected to be the new president of San Francisco’s prestigious California Academy of Sciences.

Jill Tarter ATA

Jill was pivotal to the creation of the SETI Institute in 1984; The NASA SETI program of which she was a part became the Institute’s first project.  In 1998, she was appointed to the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI Research, and more recently Tarter became officially affiliated with the California Academy’s Board of Trustees. 

“In the eight years that I’ve been a Scientist Trustee at the Academy, I've found a number of different ways that that organization and the SETI Institute could help each other on projects,” Tarter says.  “After all, we have overlapping interests regarding life, both here on Earth and beyond.  And both organizations have a passion for sharing what they know with the world.”

Tarter’s efforts in the SETI enterprise are legendary, and include the initiative for constructing the Allen Telescope Array, the only radio telescope deliberately designed for searching for signals due to extraterrestrial transmitters.  An informed and energetic champion of the search for company in the cosmos, she can be frequently seen explaining the science behind this enterprise on television and in print.  She has also been identified as the prototype for the Ellie Arroway character in the Carl Sagan novel, Contact.

A winner of many awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award from Women in Aerospace, Tarter has a long-standing interest in education and in promoting a better understanding of science by the public.  She gives several dozen talks each year. 

“As I assume the role of President of the Academy and continue my service on the SETI Institute Board of Trustees, I look forward to finding or creating many more ways we can work together,” Tarter notes.