Alumni: James S. Sweitzer, 1978
Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1978

Astronomer, American Museum of Natural History


Being both an astrophysicist and an educator makes Dr. Jim Sweitzer, the Course Scientist for How to Think About Life in the Universe, "kind of an unusual bird," he admits. He has a Ph.D. in astrophysics and has spent most of his career working at planetariums, with a focus on educating the general public about astronomy. Since 1996, Jim has been in charge of making the planetarium at the new Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) come together. There were many elements to creating the new Hayden Planetarium that went beyond the usual aspects of developing a museum exhibition. In this case, the job included determining which stories to tell in the exhibition, working with the architectural team on the design of the building and the space show theater, and working with the producers and script writers to develop the new space show. The Hayden Planetarium project has been the biggest challenge of Jim's career so far.