Image of Courtney Dressing (Photo by Ben Ailes)
Photo credit: Ben Ailes

Research Expertise and Interest

exoplanets, stars, habitability, astrobiology

Research Description

Courtney Dressing is an observational astronomer focused on detecting and characterizing planetary systems orbiting nearby stars. Her research uses telescopes on the ground and in space to search for planets, probe their atmospheres, measure their masses, and constrain their bulk compositions. Courtney received a PhD and AM in astronomy and astrophysics from Harvard University and an A.B. in astrophysical sciences from Princeton University. She was a member of the Science & Technology Definition Team for the LUVOIR mission concept study and a member of the science panel on Exoplanets, Astrobiology and the Solar System for the Astro2020 Decadal Survey organized by the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. In recognition of her work, Courtney has been awarded the Hellman Faculty Fellowship, the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, the David & Lucile Packard Fellowship, the 2020 Harvard Bok Prize, and the 2021 Newton Lacy Pierce Prize from the American Astronomical Society. She is currently the Watson and Marilyn Alberts Chair in the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI).

In the News

Brightest Stars in the Night Sky Can Strip Planets to Their Rocky Cores

University of California, Berkeley, astronomers now report a new, Neptune-sized planet — called HD 56414 b — around one of these hot-burning, but short-lived, A-type stars and provide a hint about why so few gas giants smaller than Jupiter have been seen around the brightest 1% of stars in our galaxy.

Exoplanet hunter Courtney Dressing awarded 2019 Packard Fellowship

Courtney Dressing’s ongoing search for planets around other stars has won her a prestigious Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering. Dressing, a UC Berkeley assistant professor of astronomy, is one of 22 early career scientists and engineers nationwide who will receive $875,000 each over five years to pursue their research. The new fellows were announced this week by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Seven early-career faculty win Sloan Research Fellowships

Seven assistant professors from the fields of astronomy, biology, computer science, economics and statistics have been named 2019 Sloan Research Fellows. They are among 126 scholars from the United States and Canada whose early-career achievements mark them as being among today’s very best scientific minds. Winners receive $70,000 over the course of two years toward a research project.
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