Dr Andrew Siemion

Dr Siemion honoured by SETI Institute

Astronomy and astrophysics

Dr Andrew Siemion has been awarded the SETI Institute’s 2024 Drake Award for his exceptional and pioneering contributions to the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) and radio astronomy and his leadership in the field. Dr Siemion is Director of Breakthrough Listen at the University of Oxford’s Department of Physics. Breakthrough Listen is the largest ever astronomical programme searching for ‘technosignatures’ – evidence of past or present technology that would signal the presence of life beyond planet Earth.

Dr Siemion's career includes his role as the Bernard M Oliver Chair for SETI at the SETI Institute along with holding an Honorary Professorship at the University of Manchester, an Adjunct Appointment at the University of Malta, and directing the Berkeley SETI Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley. His dedication to SETI science and funding has been crucial in advocating for the scientific validity and importance of the field.

Named after Dr Frank Drake, the SETI Institute's inaugural president of its Board of Trustees and the architect of the Drake Equation, the Drake Award celebrates remarkable achievements in the realms of SETI and astrobiology. Drake, often heralded as the father of SETI, launched the first SETI experiment, Project Ozma, at the Green Bank Radio Observatory in 1960, and his Drake Equation has become a fundamental framework for astrobiology. Drake Award recipients are nominated by the SETI Institute's Science Advisory Board and ratified by its Board of Trustees. The 2024 Drake Award presentation marks a significant occasion as it continues to honour the legacy of Dr Drake following his passing in 2022.

‘It is profoundly humbling to receive an award named after Frank Drake,’ said Dr Siemion. ‘I was privileged to know Frank as both a friend and a colleague, and his immense generosity of spirit and scientific curiosity made an indelible imprint on me as a scientist and human. As we mark the 40th anniversary of the SETI Institute and look toward the next 40 years in the search for technologically capable life, we see how far Frank's vision and leadership have brought us and the amazing opportunities for discovery ahead.’

‘Andrew Siemion, in a still young career, has become one of the world's most prominent and productive SETI researchers,’ said Bill Diamond, CEO of the SETI Institute. ‘From leading the transformation of the Allen Telescope Array to world-class status to conceiving the COSMIC project on the VLA to presiding over the Breakthrough Listen initiative, Andrew has transformed the field of radio SETI research and left his permanent mark on this profound endeavour. We are delighted to honour Andrew as our 2024 Drake Award recipient.’