16 Jan Happy Birthday Blog: Jill Tarter
Born: January 16, 1944
New York, USA
Known For: Co-Founder of the SETI Institute
Jill Tarter has spent more than 40 years working on the search for extraterrestrial life, she is a radio astronomer and the co-founder of the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute in California. Tarter knew from an early age that the wanted to be an engineer, resisting societal pressures to pursue a career considered more appropriate for a woman. She was told by a high school guidance counselor, “Why do you want to take calculus? You’re just going to get married and have babies.” She earned her bachelor’s degree of Engineering Physics at Cornell University, where she was the only woman in the program. She moved from engineering to astronomy with her master’s and PhD work at the University of California at Berkeley.
Though Tarter worked behind the scenes to manage underfunded telescopes, fundraise for projects, publish countless papers, and convince skeptics that the search for extraterrestrial life was well worth the risk, she is also known for being Carl Sagan’s inspiration for the character of Ellie Arroway in his novel Contact. When the novel was made into a film starring Jodie Foster, Tarter consulted on the project and advised Foster. She has innumerable accolades to her name and her work has been a huge inspiration for a new generation of women in STEM. Throughout her career she sought to answer the singular question – are we alone?, all while finding ways to succeed and persevere in a male-dominated field.
For this and many reasons, The Good Doctors chose to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Tarter today!
Check out her pitch for seti here:
Read more about Dr. Tarter here.