July 30, 2018

Steven Beckwith » Directory of Researchers

Photo of Steven Beckwith

Steven Beckwith

DirectorUniversity of California, BerkeleyDepartment of Astronomy
Building 210 Silver 7 Gauss Way Berkeley CA 94720 United StatesWork Phone: +1 (415) 230-0335Website: Department of Astronomy WebpageWebsite: CV


Space Sciences Lab Director
Professor of Astronomy
Department of Astronomy Senate Faculty

Professor Beckwith is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Fellow of the California Academy of Sciences. He has served as Director of the Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie (Heidelberg, Germany), the Director of the Space Telescope Science Institute (Baltimore, Maryland), and most recently as the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies for the ten-campus University of California system (Oakland, California). He has been on the faculties of Cornell University (Professor of Astronomy) and Johns Hopkins University (Professor of Physics and Astronomy) prior to coming to Berkeley in 2008.

Specialty Areas

Origins of life, cosmology, star formation, planet formation

Research Interests

Professor Beckwith is interested in nature’s leap from chemistry to biology on the prebiotic Earth and how an understanding of that leap will let us infer the likelihood that life has developed elsewhere in the universe. He is investigating how non-equilibrium thermodynamic processes on a small scale may give rise to chemical reaction networks that will become self-sustaining and ultimately evolve into the life we see on Earth today.





The Gemini Planet Imager Exoplanet Survey

Artist rendition of the exoplanet 51 Eridani b. Image credit: Danielle Futselaar / Franck Marchis / SETI Institute.

The Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) is a new science instrument that exploits the latest generation of adaptive optics technology, coronagraphy, and detectors. We have successfully commissioned GPI at the Gemini South telescope in Chile and in 2014 we started a three-year science program called GPIES (GPI Exoplanet Survey) that will survey 600 stars for the presence of young giant planets.