Bard College Awarded $124,936 by the Heising-Simons Foundation to Simulate and Detect Potential BiosignaturesANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, NY — Bard College is pleased to announce that it has received $124,936 from the Heising-Simons Foundation for a five-year project to simulate and detect potential biosignatures from exoplanets. The project, led by Assistant Professor of Physics Clara Sousa-Silva, will look for potential markers of life beyond Earth by expanding our understanding of how molecules behave in different atmospheric environments. “Currently, the most pressing limitation in the characterization of planets, and, ultimately, the detection of life, is our lack of understanding of molecules and their environmental interactions,” professor Sousa-Silva explains. “My research proposal aims to address this problem through a combination of quantum chemistry, astrobiology, and planetary sciences.”
Professor Sousa-Silva’s previous work focused on simulating spectra (the band of colors produced by the separation of components of light by wavelength) for biosignature gases. Now, with the development of more advanced observational technologies, she is able to apply that work more directly by studying the atmospheric spectrum of exoplanets and identifying molecules connected to life. In 2019, professor Sousa-Silva was named a 51 Pegasi b fellow with the Foundation. The fellowship, which is named for the first exoplanet discovered orbiting a Sun-like star, provides three years of postdoctoral support to early-career scholars in planetary science and astronomy.
The Heising-Simons Foundation is a family foundation that funds work that advances sustainable solutions in climate and clean energy, enables groundbreaking research in science, enhances the education of our youngest learners, and supports human rights for all people.
About Bard College
Founded in 1860, Bard College is a four-year, residential college of the liberal arts and sciences located 90 miles north of New York City. With the addition of the Montgomery Place estate, Bard’s campus consists of nearly 1,000 parklike acres in the Hudson River Valley. It offers bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, and bachelor of music degrees, with majors in more than 40 academic programs; graduate degrees in 13 programs; eight early colleges; and numerous dual-degree programs nationally and internationally. Building on its 163-year history as a competitive and innovative undergraduate institution, Bard College has expanded its mission as a private institution acting in the public interest across the country and around the world to meet broader student needs and increase access to liberal arts education. The undergraduate program at our main campus in upstate New York has a reputation for scholarly excellence, a focus on the arts, and civic engagement. Bard is committed to enriching culture, public life, and democratic discourse by training tomorrow’s thought leaders. For more information about Bard College, visit bard.edu.
Bard Press Contact:Ania Bartkowiak
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