Munazza K. Alam
An image compiled by the Space Telescope Science Institute Author: STScI / NASA
2024

Munazza K. Alam

Astronomer

ruby raindrops, earth twins, and cosmic frontiers

meet munazza

Munazza Alam is an astronomer, National Geographic Young Explorer, and a staff scientist at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, MD. Originally from New York, she earned her Bachelor’s degree in physics and astronomy from CUNY Hunter College and completed her PhD in astronomy and astrophysics at Harvard University in 2021. In her research, Munazza utilizes data from the Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes, along with state-of-the-art ground-based facilities at the Mauna Kea Observatories in Hilo, Hawai’i, and the Las Campanas Observatory in La Serena, Chile. Her focus involves carefully measuring the atmospheres of planets, ranging from Earth-sized planets to hot gaseous worlds akin to Jupiter. Beyond her scientific pursuits, Munazza finds enjoyment in oil pastels and watercolors during her free time.

ruby raindrops, earth twins, and cosmic frontiers
Nominated by: Joe Grabowski, FI'18
Class of 2024 Location USA
Follow munazza's work:
Munazza stands in front of the 6.5m Magellan Clay Telescope
Munazza stands in front of the 6.5m Magellan Clay Telescope Author: Munazza Alam

Everyone, at some point in their lives, has gazed up at the cosmos, contemplating its grandeur. A fascination with the universe transcends generations and cultures. As an astronomer, I find that many individuals – regardless of age or background – are fascinated with discoveries about the universe. My commitment to astronomy research is driven by the desire to share the wonders of the universe in a way that is accessible to a wide range of audiences. In a world marked by division, I aspire for my work as an astronomer to serve as a unifying force for humanity. I hope to bring local and global communities together, encouraging them to set aside their differences and appreciate our shared existence on this Earth within the vastness of the universe.

“My commitment to astronomy research is driven by the desire to share the wonders of the universe in a way that is accessible to diverse audiences.”

- Munazza K. Alam
Munazza at the future site of th Giant Magella Telescope at the Las Campaanas Observatory, shortly after groundbreaking
Munazza at the future site of th Giant Magella Telescope at the Las Campaanas Observatory, shortly after groundbreaking Author: Jackie Faherty

In my scientific pursuits, I hope to break boundaries driven by structural racism and sexism embedded in academia and society. As a first-generation Muslim-American woman of color who wears a headscarf, I am intimately familiar with the challenges associated with having underrepresented identities in academic circles. I am actively working to counter facets of academia that historically excluded individuals with marginalized identities.

My research pushes the boundaries of exploration to the farthest reaches of the universe, with the ultimate goal of finding an Earth twin and, maybe one day, life elsewhere. I hope my efforts in local, global, and scientific communities will contribute to making astronomy what it was always meant to be: a journey of wonder open to anyone sharing a place in the Universe.

never stop exploring

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