Grace Wolf-Chase is an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium and senior research associate in the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. Wolf-Chase's research focuses on how different types of stars form in different environments in our Galaxy, and how these conditions set the stage for the formation of planetary systems. Wolf-Chase has published dozens of scientific papers and has written numerous popular articles on a range of topics in astronomy, as well several articles on science and religion. She is a full member of the American Astronomical Society, a Founding Member of the Astrobiology Society, and an Affiliated Faculty Member of the Zygon Center for Religion & Science.
Recognizing the pressing need to develop a stronger Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) workforce, a unique aspect of Wolf-Chase's joint position is helping the general public share in the process and excitement of scientific discovery through different venues such as exhibits, planetarium shows, and projects that utilize citizen scientists to help mine vast astronomical databases. At a time when the acquisition of huge quantities of data far exceeds the capacity of scientists to analyze, hundreds of thousands of citizen scientists make important discoveries by inspecting astronomical images and classifying features for which human eyes are better suited than computer algorithms. Citizen science simultaneously contributes to the progress of science and the advancement of public understanding of science.
The communication of science often requires tearing down barriers that contribute to negative attitudes toward science and scientists. Such attitudes are particularly apparent in public dialogue on science and religion. Wolf-Chase is passionately interested in helping to build partnerships, trust and mutual respect between scientists and religious communities. She has been especially active within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), where she has given invited presentations at large gatherings, including a Western States Youth Gathering, a Conference of Bishops, and a Global Mission Event.
Grace Wolf-Chase will speak on the following topics:
- The Ongoing Creation of Stars, Planets, and, Possibly, Life
- Prospects for Life Beyond Earth in an Evolving Universe
- Extraterrestrials, Science, & Religion: Life and Meaning in an Evolving Universe
- Shedding Infrared Light on the Mysteries of Star Birth
- Citizen Science: The Role Individual Citizens Can Play in Meaningful Scientific Discovery