March 28, 2022, Mountain View, California – On May 12, 2022, Dr. Shelley Wright will receive the 2022 Drake Prize from the SETI Institute. Wright was a pioneer in the development and research of optical and near-infrared SETI instruments throughout her career. Some of Wright’s contributions include directing and collaborating in the design, construction, and implementation of pulsed laser SETI instruments. Wright was a vital member of the team that developed one of the most advanced optical SETI experiments and was the principal investigator of the first near-infrared SETI instrument (NIROSETI) and survey. Wright is currently the principal investigator of an all-time panoramic SETI observatory called “PANOSETI”.
The Drake Prize is named after Dr. Frank Drake, the first Chairman of the SETI Institute Board of Trustees and creator of the so-called “Drake’s Equation.” Drake is considered the father of SETI scientific research, having conducted the first SETI experiment, Project Ozma, at the Green Bank Radio Observatory in 1960 and his Drake equation is recognized as a road map for the field of science. astrobiology. Drake Award winners are nominated by the SETI Institute Scientific Advisory Board and approved by its board of directors.
“I am honored to receive the Drake Prize,” said Wright, an associate professor at the University of California, San Diego. “It was Frank Drake’s lifelong investment in SETI research and his committed mentorship that paved my way here today. For me, the Drake Prize goes beyond Frank’s excellence in research. and touches on its training of the next generation of SETI scholars. I am fortunate to have been part of the SETI community for my entire professional career and look forward to inspiring the next generation of SETI scholars as we Let’s follow in Frank’s footsteps The SETI research we are undertaking over the next decade is incredibly exciting and ambitious and builds on decades of work by others in the SETI field such as Frank Drake and Jill Tarter.
“It is such a pleasure to be able to recognize Dr. Wright’s impressive research achievements with the Drake Award,” said Dr. Lucianne Walkowicz, Chair of the SETI Institute’s Scientific Advisory Board. “Dr. Wright has spent her career advancing instrumental innovations in optical and IR SETI, wavelengths often overlooked for their potential to make SETI discoveries. She has worked tirelessly and creatively, and I I look forward to celebrating his continued success!”
Established in 2001, past recipients of the Drake Prize include:
- Frank Drake, for innovation in SETI and research into life in the universe
- Charles Townes, for visionary advocacy for optical SETI
- William Borucki, for his groundbreaking contributions to exoplanet research as PI for the Kepler Space Telescope
- Victoria Meadows, for her seminal contributions to astrobiology and exoplanet research
- Jason Wright, for his groundbreaking achievements in exoplanet research and SETI
- Paul Horowitz, for his pioneering work in SETI Instrumentation for radio and optical SETI searches
- Dan Werthimer, for developing new radio spectrometers and optical SETI detection systems
“Shelley is a wonderfully deserving recipient of this year’s Drake Award,” said Bill Diamond, President and CEO of the SETI Institute. “Our current knowledge of the ubiquity of planets and the large number of habitable worlds in our own galaxy makes SETI research more compelling than ever and Shelly has expanded the field beyond radio astronomy into new innovative research modalities. We We are therefore delighted to honor his work and dedication to the field of SETI research through this recognition.
The presentation of the 2022 Drake Awards will take place on May 12, 2022, at a public event held at SRI International in Menlo Park, California. The awards show will also be streamed live via Zoom for those unable to attend in person. Scientific Advisory Board member Timiebi Aganaba will host the 2022 Drake Award event. Other honorees will include recipients of the SETI Forward Award, which encourages future scientists to pursue careers in the search for life in the universe, and the Carl Sagan Center Director’s Award, which recognizes outstanding achievement in astrobiology, technology and the exploration of life in the universe.
Additional information about the 2022 Drake Awards event and tickets for the in-person and virtual events are here.
About Shelley Wright:
Shelley Wright is an associate professor at the University of California, San Diego, Department of Physics and Center for Astrophysics and Space Science. Wright has extensive experience working with optical and infrared instrumentation, with a particular focus on imaging cameras and spectrographs that operate behind large telescopes and SETI instrumentation. His observational research focuses on the formation and evolution of galaxies and supermassive black holes in cosmic time. Wright is currently Principal Investigator for the Next Generation AO Liger Instrument for the WM Keck Observatory and Project Scientist for the First Lightweight Instrument (IRIS) for the Future Thirty Meter Telescope.
Throughout her career, Wright was a pioneer in the development and research of optical and near-infrared SETI instruments. Wright has been involved in the design, construction and implementation of pulsed laser SETI instruments. Wright was a vital member of the team that developed one of the most advanced optical SETI experiments and was the principal investigator of the first near-infrared SETI instrument (NIROSETI) and survey. Wright is currently the principal investigator of an all-time SETI observatory called PANOSETI.
Wright received her BS in Physics from the University of California, Santa Cruz in 2001. She served as a support astronomer at the Isaac Newton Group of Telescopes in La Palma, then continued her graduate studies at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. Wright conducted his graduate research on the instrumentation and observations of the WM Keck Observatory while working at UCLA’s Infrared Astrophysics Laboratory, earning his Ph.D. in 2008. Wright then served as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California, Irvine in 2008-2009, working on instrument development and scientific studies for the Thirty Meter Telescope. In 2009, she received a Hubble Postdoctoral Fellowship from NASA and the President’s Fellowship from the University of California, Berkeley for her observational research program on distant galaxies. Prior to coming to UC San Diego, Wright served as an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics and the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics from 2012 to 2014. Wright is currently Vice President of astronomy in the Physics Department at UC San Diego. Since 2020, Wright has served as chair of the University of California Observatories Advisory Committee (UCOAC).
About the SETI Institute
Founded in 1984, the SETI Institute is a nonprofit, multidisciplinary research and education organization whose mission is to lead humanity’s quest to understand the origins and prevalence of life and intelligence in universe and share this knowledge with the world. Our research spans the physical and biological sciences and relies on data analytics, machine learning and advanced signal detection technologies. The SETI Institute is a distinguished research partner for industry, academia, and government agencies, including NASA and the National Science Foundation.
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