Andrew Siemion Named Bernard M. Oliver Chair Of SETI At The SETI Institute

April 9, 2018, Mountain View, CA – In collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley, the SETI Institute today announced the appointment of Dr. Andrew P.V. Siemion, Astrophysicist and Director of the U.C. Berkeley SETI Research Center, to the Bernard M. Oliver Chair of SETI Research at the SETI Institute. Dr. Siemion is one of the most active and respected authorities on the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, leveraging both radio and optical astronomy technologies.

The role of the Bernard M. Oliver Chair at the SETI Institute is to provide leadership and vision for its SETI programs, including SETI research at the Allen Telescope Array (ATA). The Oliver Chair is responsible for establishing search priorities and methodologies, including optical SETI and the utilization of AI and machine learning tools for advanced data analytics. The Chair also represents the SETI Institute in the scientific and engineering communities and has the responsibility to advance the SETI Institute’s prominence in SETI endeavors.

Andrew Siemion
Image source: Press Release

Jill Tarter, co-founder of the SETI Institute, was the first person named to the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI at the Institute and has held the position since its inception. Dr. Tarter will now hold the title of Chair Emeritus for SETI Research and will continue to serve on the SETI Institute Board of Trustees and as an advisor to the SETI team.

“I am incredibly honored to have a role in continuing the legacy of Bernard M. Oliver,” said Dr. Siemion. “Further, Dr. Tarter is a hero to astronomers the world over, most especially those of us working in the field of SETI. I am humbled to have the privilege of furthering SETI at the Institute she helped to found and shepherd for more than three decades.”

“Andrew brings deep technical knowledge and a wealth of experience in SETI research, radio astronomy, digital electronics and signal processing to SETI programs at the Institute,” said Institute CEO, Bill Diamond. “We are delighted to have him on the team, and anticipate a more expansive SETI vision under his leadership.” “We also look forward to closer ties to UC Berkeley Astronomy, where we have a long history of collaboration,” said Diamond. Dr. Siemion will also serve on the SETI Institute’s Science Advisory Board and will retain his current positions at Berkeley as he takes on his new role at the Institute.

Established in 1997, the Bernard M. Oliver Chair is named in honor of Barney Oliver, long-time Vice President for Research at Hewlett Packard Company, member of the SETI Institute Board of Trustees, Chief Engineer of the Institute and SETI Pioneer. It recognizes Dr. Oliver’s visionary leadership in SETI and his contributions to the SETI Institute.


Dr. Andrew P. V. Siemion received his B.A. (2008), M.A. (2010) and Ph.D. (2012) in Astrophysics from the University of California, Berkeley. During his studies at UC Berkeley, Siemion was a recipient of the Josephine de Karman Fellowship, a scholarship program established in 1954 by the late Dr. Theodore von Karman, world-renowned aeronautics expert, teacher and first director of the Guggenheim Aeronautical Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology. Siemion also received the UC Berkeley Astronomy Department’s Dorothea Klumpke-Roberts prize for undergraduates and the Mary Elizabeth Uhl Dissertation Prize for his PhD thesis entitled “Searches for Exotic Radio Sources and Intelligent Life on Other Worlds.”

Following a joint postdoctoral appointment at the UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON) and Radboud University, Netherlands, Dr. Siemion was appointed as an Associate Research Astronomer in the UC Berkeley Astronomy Department (2016). Dr. Siemion is the founding director of the Berkeley SETI Research Center, and serves as Principal Investigator for the Breakthrough Listen Initiative. Dr. Siemion retains joint affiliations with the Department of Astrophysics, Radboud University and the Institute of Space Sciences & Astronomy at the University of Malta.

Dr. Siemion frequently appears on popular media discussing the search for life beyond Earth, including the NBC Today Show, PBS NewsHour, Morgan Freeman’s ‘Through the Wormhole’ and BBC Horizon. In September 2015, Siemion testified on the current status of astrobiology and the search for extraterrestrial intelligence to the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the United States Congress.