Short CV/Education and training

  • 1999
    Master of Science in astrophysics, University of Graz / IAC, Austria

  • 1999
    Johns Hopkins University (JHU), MD, USA

  • 1999
    Summer undergraduate research projects, JHU, USA

  • 1999
    Research fellow, Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC), Spain

  • 2000
    United Nations (UN) conference moderator, Austria

  • 2000 – 2001
    LIGO 2000 summer undergraduate research projects, California Institute of Technology, USA

  • 2001
    Master of Engineering in physics and engineering, Graz University of Technology, Austria

  • 2001 – 2002
    Research associate, Georgia Institute of Technology, USA

  • 2003 – 2004
    Young Engineer, European Space Agency's European Space Research and Technology Centre (ESA-ESTEC): Future Projects Office, Netherlands

  • 2005
    PhD in astrophysics, University of Graz / ESTEC, Austria

  • 2005 – 2009
    Consultant to the ESA subsidiary AURORA Technology, Netherlands

  • 2005
    Visiting professor

  • 2006
    Visiting professor, Ecole Normale Supérieure de Lyon, France

  • 2008 – 2010
    SAO (Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory) Postdoctoral Fellow, Harvard Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics (CfA), USA

  • 2008
    Visiting professor, University of Arizona, USA, astrobiology lecture series

  • 2009 – 2010
    Lecturer, Harvard Astronomy Department, USA

  • 2010
    Group leader, Max Planck Institute, Heidelberg, Germany

  • 2010
    Consultant, Harvard Astronomy Department

  • 2010
    Research associate, Harvard Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics

  • 2010
    Research associate, Harvard Astronomy Department

Selected publications


  • 1. Kaltenegger, L et al., Spectral Evolution of an Earth-like Planet, ApJ 658, 598, 2007

    This paper changed the way the scientific community thinks about, and models rocky exoplanets, as well as what observes consider as input for design specifications of new instruments. It pioneered the study of observable spectra – spectral fingerprints – of Earth through geological times using fossil records as proxy for evolutionary stages of an exoEarths.

  • 2. Kaltenegger, L & Traub, W., Transits of Earth-Like Planets, ApJ, 698, 1, pp. 519-527, 2009

    This paper used shuttle data to produce the first Earths spectrum in transit geometry – the first spectral fingerprint of our Earth transiting the Sun and for the first time quantitatively evaluates future mission needs for JWST for the Exo-Earth science case.

  • 3. Kaltenegger, L., Characterizing Habitable Exo-Moons, ApJL, 711, L1-L6, 2010

    This paper address for the first time what it would take to figure out if a exomoon is habitable using spectroscopy while considering dynamical constraints on the moons orbit.

  • 4. Kaltenegger L., et al.,Characterizing Volcano planets, ApJ, 140, 5, 1370, 2010

    This paper established the idea that we can detect signatures of volcanism on exoplanets to establish if it is geologically active, and therefore can maintain surface habitability.

  • 5. Kaltenegger, L., Sasselov D., Rugheimer S., Water Planets in the Habitable Zone: Atmospheric Chemistry, Observable Features, and the case of Kepler-62e and -62f, ApJL, 775, 2, L47, 5, 2013

    This paper explores whether Kepler-62e and -62f could in principle provide habitable environments, how cycling mechanisms on water-worlds could work to also provide a HZ for such planets and how those environments could be distinguished through transit spectroscopy.

Complete list of publications

Selected projects

  • Planetarium Show on Exoplanets, Boston Science Museum, USA, 2011

  • Exoplanets and beyond, Harvard Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics (CfA), bringing cutting-edge science into the K-12 classroom, 2008

  • Eye on the sky, CfA education department, dialogue with astronomers, 2007

  • The Habitable Planet Project, Harvard (web-based initiative for the classroom), USA, 2007

  • Science at Stake: web-based initiative for journalists and the general public, since 2006

Membership in scientific bodies/juries

International Science Panels

  • TESS Habitability Working Group (chair), 2013-current

  • Kepler Habitability Working Group, 2013-current

  • ISSI team lead "1D/3D Exoplanet Atmospheres and their Characterization", 2007–2010

  • NASA Extrasolar Planet Analysis Group (ExoPAG) – Executive Council Member, 2009–2014

  • Pale Blue Dot Initiative: Lead of the Habitability Group, 2008–2009

  • ISSI team member "Evolution of Exoplanet Atmospheres and their Characterization", 2007–2010

  • TPF-I: Science Working Group: invited external expert, 2005–2008

  • Darwin Science Advisory Committee: member as part of ESA & external expert, 2002–2008

Member of the editorial boards of international journals:

  • Astrobiology (editorial board)

  • Nautilus (advisory board)

  • Encyclopedia of Astrobiology (field editor)

Media coverage


  • The most exciting planets for habitability yet. April 13

  • Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize, Awards to Honor Scientific Achievements of Six Early-Career Researchers May 12

  • Can We Spot Volcanoes on Alien Worlds? Sep 10

  • Avatars moon Pandora could be real? Dec 09

  • Finding Twin Earths:Harder Than We Thought Mar 09

  • 3 Top Young CfA Astronomers Honored Nov 07

  • Astronomers reveal first Alien ID chart Oct 06


  • WDR Quarks & Co Science Show, Science Talk Austria, Stoeckel Show 2013

  • Nano-science magazine for students, WQ knowledge show ZDF, Talk am Hangar 7, Servus TV 2012

  • Hubble TV show, Servus TV 2011

  • Planetarium Show: Search for other Worlds Boston Museum of Science Feb 11 to current

  • Liquid Universe, The Universe, History Channel 2009

  • Alien Earths, NOVA 2008

  • Science at Stake: Web-based initiative for journalists and general public 2006 – 2008


  • Ars Electronica Artist Lecture July 12

  • New School (NYC, Art and Science), NYC Dec 11

  • Bridge the Gap (Art&Science), NYC Dec 09


  • Thousand Worlds in the Sky,, NYC, May 13

  • Exoplanets and the fascination of science, HdA, Germany, March 12

  • Problem solving with Smithsonian experts, July 10

  • Eye on the Sky: An Astronomy Dialog (CfA web-based TV interview) Feb 07

  • Detecting Life Beyond Earth, PBS online Quiz, Sep 07


  • Reading a Planets Spectral Fingerprint, Sky & Telescope (Germany) Sep 2013

  • Worlds without End, Magazing, NYC, July 2013

  • Searching for a Second Earth, Spektrum der Wissenschaften, July 2013

  • Search for Extrasolar Planets, Physics Today (German) Feb 12

  • Encyclopedia on Astrobiology (field editor on planetary science & author of 14 entries) 2011

  • Year Million (chapter on life among the stars) 2008


  • Planetarium Klagenfurt, Austria Search for exoplanets and Life in the universe Nov 13

  • Yuris night Vienna, Search for a Second Earth April 13

  • Mindt Student Academy Oct 12

  • Planetarium Muenster Search for exoplanets and Life in the universe Oct 12

  • Keynote lecture NaWik Center for Science communication Oct 12

  • Prize lecture Heinz Maier Leibnitz May 12

  • German-American Platform, Heidelberg How to find signs of life in the universe? May 12

  • Childrens university 2012, Den Alien auf der Spur Heidelberg April 12

  • Undiscovered Worlds Planetarium Show on Exoplanets, Boston Science Museum, 2011

  • Exoplanets and beyond, CfA (bringing cutting-edge science into the K-12 classroom), 2008

  • MEDIA AWARD: Smithsonian Magazine Young Innovator 2007 Award July 07


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  1. How to recognize life on distant planets

    Space scientists have measured the "chemical fingerprints" of 137 different species of microorganisms. This could help future astronomers to recognize life on the surface of exoplanets. Lisa Kaltenegger was part of the international team.

  2. Searching for the Origins of Life

    Dr. Lisa Kaltenegger is an expert on the atmospheres of planets orbiting other stars than our Sun. This month, she has been named an investigator for the "Simons Collaboration on the Origins of Life".

  3. Earth-Size Planets in Habitable Zone

    Astronomers discovered two small, potentially rocky planets orbiting within the habitable zone of their star. An international team of scientists, including Lisa Kaltenegger from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, analyzed the data from NASA's Kepler mission.

  4. Recipients of the 2012 Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Prize Announced

    The new recipients of the most important prize for early-career researchers in Germany have been announced. The selection committee, appointed by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), have chosen three young women and three young men for this prestigious award.

  5. Exploring Distant Worlds

    Numerous exoplanets have been found in recent years - but how can researchers detect life on planets many lightyears away? Lisa Kaltenegger explains the technique of spectral fingerprints from distant worlds, as well as the search for other habitable zones in the Universe.