"The Search for Life in the Universe"
Nov 10, 2021 12:00 PM
Dr. John Mulchaey-Director, Carnegie Obvervatories
"The Search for Life in the Universe"

Dr. John S. Mulchaey is Director and Crawford H. Greenewalt Chair at the Carnegie Observatories, Pasadena’s oldest scientific establishment and a world leader in research on the evolution of the universe.  In addition, Dr. Mulchaey is Science Deputy of the Observatories’ parent organization, The Carnegie Institution for Science, where he oversees scientific developments throughout the Institution’s six departments which span the physical and biological disciplines.

Mulchaey earned his B.S. in Astrophysics from UC Berkeley, and his Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the University of Maryland.  He was a Carnegie Postdoctoral Fellow before joining the Observatories as a staff scientist in 1999, and served as Associate Director for Academic Affairs before being named The Observatories’ 11th Director in 2015. Today, Mulchaey oversees Carnegie’s main campus in Pasadena as well as The Observatories’ large-telescopes facility in Las Campanas, Chile.  He is also on the Board for the Giant Magellan Telescope, a next-generation telescope being designed in Pasadena.  

Dr. Mulchaey’s research focuses on many key areas in astronomy, including dark matter and black holes. In 1993, he led the team that discovered large amounts of dark matter in the local universe, a discovery that received front-page coverage in The New York Times and a feature in Time magazine.  In 2016, he appeared in the press as part of the team following a mysterious fast radio burst for the first time.  He is also a frequent consultant to NASA and the National Science Foundation. 

Dr. Mulchaey also leads numerous Carnegie outreach and educational activities throughout Los Angeles and beyond. He created the annual Carnegie Observatories Astronomy Lectures, a popular series held each spring at The Huntington Library.  He hosts astronomy nights at many schools; secured funding for the creation of science rooms at three local elementary schools; and founded a program for gifted high school science students.  In 2020 he received the Helios Award, part of the international Rotary Humanitarian STAR Awards program, for his achievements in scientific education.