Cross-Cultural, Urban, Reformed, Ecumenical

Stars, Planets, and Prospects for Extraterrestrial Life in our Interactive Cosmos

“Stars, Planets, and Prospects for Extraterrestrial Life in our Interactive Cosmos” Grace Wolf-Chase, Astronomer, Adler Planetarium

The universe displays an amazing web of interactive processes. What can we know of its origins, its evolution, and the prospects of life beyond planet Earth? We continually make new discoveries of planets in other star systems that may be habitable for life as we know it. Is there life out there? What will happen when we find it or when it finds us? And how do we think about these prospects as people of faith?

Presenter Grace Wolf-Chase, PhD, is an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium, an Associate in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago, and an Affiliated Faculty Member at the Zygon Center for Religion and Science. Her primary research interests are the earliest stages of star formation in our Galaxy, including how stars of all masses form in groups and clusters. She has many years of experience using infrared and radio telescopes to study the dense invisible clouds of gas and dust that give birth to stars both like and unlike our Sun.

Wolf-Chase is a member of the science team for the Milky Way Project, a citizen science initiative that is part of Zooniverse, the world’s largest and most popular platform for people-powered research. A member of the Adler’s Astronomy Department since 1998, she has worked on many exhibit and planetarium show development teams. Wolf-Chase’s principal outreach focus is on bringing the wonders of scientific exploration to non-traditional audiences, particularly diverse communities of faith, through the Clergy Letter Project. She currently serves as Vice President of the Center for Advanced Study in Religion and Science (CASIRAS), where she helps bring the process and progress of science to seminary students and other religious scholars. Wolf-Chase holds an AB in Physics from Cornell University and a PhD in Astronomy from the University of Arizona. Prior to joining the Adler team, she spent two years as a National Research Council postdoctoral fellow at NASA Ames Research Center and two years as a President’s postdoctoral fellow at the University of California at Riverside.