Dr Natalie Batalha is an astrophysicist at NASA Ames Research Centre and the Mission Scientist for NASA's Kepler Mission. She has been involved with the Kepler Mission since the proposal stage and has contributed too many different aspects of the science, from studying the stars themselves to detecting and understanding the planets they harbour.
She led the analysis that yielded the discovery in 2011 of Kepler-10b - the mission's first confirmation of a rocky planet outside our solar system. Today, she leads the effort to understand planet populations in the galaxy based on Kepler discoveries. In 2011, Dr Batalha was awarded a NASA Public Service Medal for her vision in communicating Kepler science to the public and for outstanding leadership in coordinating the Kepler Science Team.
In 2015, she joined the leadership team of NASA's Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS). NExSS brings teams from multiple disciplines together to understand the diversity of worlds and will lead NASA's efforts to understand which are most likely to harbor life.
Time magazine named Dr Batalha one of the 100 most influential people this year for her pioneering work and its significance in advancing our understanding of the potential for life beyond Earth.
She will deliver a public lecture sponsored by the Royal Astronomical Society of New Zealand's Beatrice Hill Tinsley Lecture Trust on Saturday October 7 in Whangarei.
Dr Batalha was named One of Time's 100 most influential people in April 2017. Details and Bookings for this event are available www.planets.nz.