Astronomer and Executive Vice President of the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy
Heidi Hammel is a noted planetary scientist. Currently, she is senior research scientist and codirector of research at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado. A graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge and the University of Hawaii, she spent nearly nine years as a principal research scientist in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences at MIT.
Hammel was a member of the Imaging Science Team for the Voyager 2 spacecraft’s encounter with the planet Neptune in 1989 and led the Hubble Space Telescope’s observations of the spectacular collision of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 with Jupiter in 1994. Her current research focuses on studies of Neptune and Uranus with the Hubble and various Earth-based telescopes.
At every step in her career, Hammel has been passionately committed to sharing her research with the public in an engaging and accessible way. She works very closely with the Space Science Institute’s education and outreach program. Both her research and her achievements in science communication have earned her prestigious honors and awards, among them the Exploratorium’s 1998 Public Understanding of Science Award, the American Astronomical Society’s 1996 Harold C. Urey Prize, and the 2002 Carl Sagan Medal.