Brendan Mullan

Brendan Mullan

Brendan Mullan explores innovative ways to communicate astronomy to the public and inspire a new generation of scientists. He won the 2012 U.S. FameLab competition and is a recent Ph.D. graduate from Penn State. He is currently the Director of the Buhl Planetarium and Observatory at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh. Brendan Mullan thinks scientists should reach out—to schoolchildren, college undergraduates, folks in the neighborhood, curious Web browsers, and everyone in between. His research tackles some of astrobiology’s most complex questions, but his public outreach efforts bring astronomy and astrobiology out of the ivory tower to make science more accessible, engaging, and entertaining. “Astronomy is like the gateway drug of the sciences,” says Mullan. “Many people are already fascinated by the night sky, space missions, and colorful photos of planets, galaxies, and swirling clouds of interstellar gas. Human beings fundamentally want to connect with some cosmic context greater than themselves. I want to give them that chance.” He believes that inspiring this new generation of scientists is crucial. “The 21st century problems we face—climate change, sustainability, disease, you name it—can only be ameliorated with 21st-century ideas, aka science.” Brendan Mullan Science Educator and Astrobiologist National Geographic Emerging Explorer.