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Keivan Stassun

Stevenson Professor of Physics

Expert in the search for Earth-like planets across the galaxy and an advocate for diversity, including neurodiversity, in the academy.

Areas of Expertise


Media Appearances

  • First images from NASA’s James Webb Telescope will be shared with researchers and students in Middle Tennessee

    Dr. Keivan Stassun, an astrophysicist at Vanderbilt University, is helping lead that effort. He and his team will analyze these new images for revelations about space and time in distant galaxies.

    July 12th, 2022

  • NASA Needs 'Multi-generational Commitment' for Space Mission DEI: Report

    Keivan Stassun, one of the study's co-authors and the Stevenson Professor of Physics & Astronomy at Vanderbilt University's College of Arts & Science, added in a Vanderbilt news release that SMD's current process can "systematically disadvantage and exclude folks of certain backgrounds or life experiences who could be superb, arguably even more capable, leaders."

    May 18th, 2022

  • Fix the system, not the students

    Even before the TEAM-UP report, some academic physicists had begun to take similar steps. At Vanderbilt University, astrophysicist Keivan Stassun was moved to act by data showing Black undergraduates are being pushed out of the field they want to study.

    March 2nd, 2022

  • NASA’s biggest telescope is about to launch, and a Vanderbilt astronomer has a ‘front row seat’ to cosmic discovery

    “The James Webb Telescope is by far, by a country mile, the single most ambitious and technologically-advanced thing that human beings have sent into space,” said Dr. Keivan Stassun, an astrophysicist at Vanderbilt University.

    December 23rd, 2021

  • Recruiting for talent on the autism spectrum

    Dan Burger's unique abilities caught the attention of Keivan Stassun, an astrophysics professor at Vanderbilt. His son is on the autism spectrum, and Stassun helped start the Frist Center.

    July 18th, 2021

  • Revealed: The ‘Next Hubble’ Space Telescope That Will Photograph Another Earth, Cost $11 Billion And Launch In The 2040s

    The plans involve a new flagship space telescope, but rather than selecting one of the four proposals on offer the report has opted for a mix of two of them. “We did not want to say what mission concept we like best, but instead we wanted to say what we need to achieve,” said Keivan Stassun of Vanderbilt University and one of the members of the steering committee for this report.

    November 4th, 2021

  • “Six Light-Years Away”–TESS Exoplanet Team Will Observe 400,000 Stars

    “This is a remarkable time in human history and a huge leap for our understanding of our place in the universe,” said astronomer Keivan Stassun of Vanderbilt University, a member of the TESS science team that will observe 400,000 stars across the whole sky to catch a glimpse of an exoplanet transiting across the face of its star. The stars selected are bright, cool dwarfs, with temperatures roughly between 2,700 and 5,000 degrees Kelvin. The closest are only approximately 6 light-years from Earth.

    March 26th, 2019

  • Super hot planet bigger than Jupiter might be disappearing

    "KELT-9 radiates so much ultraviolet radiation that it may completely evaporate the planet," Vanderbilt's Keivan Stassun said in a release. "Or, if gas giant planets like KELT-9b possess solid rocky cores as some theories suggest, the planet may be boiled down to a barren rock, like Mercury." The team has published a paper describing the planet in the journal Nature and is also presenting it this week at a meeting of American Astronomical Society in Austin.

    June 5th, 2017

  • Flawed Data Just Made That 'Alien Megastructure' Even More Unlikely

    “Whenever you are doing archival research that combines information from a number of different sources, there are bound to be data precision limits that you must take into account,” explained study co-author Keivan Stassun in a statement. “In this case, we looked at variations in the brightness of a number of comparable stars in the DASCH database and found that many of them experienced a similar drop in intensity in the 1960’s. That indicates the drops were caused by changes in the instrumentation not by changes in the stars’ brightness.”

    May 9th, 2016

  • A Graduate Program Works To Diversify The Science World

    "For too long we've thought about diversity as this problem sort of after the fact," says Keivan Stassun, an astronomy professor at Vanderbilt University. Stassun helped found the Bridge Program — a partnership between Vanderbilt and nearby Fisk, a historically black university — which was created in 2004 with the goal of increasing the numbers of women and underrepresented minority students earning Ph.D.s in science. "In reality," Stassun says, "the diversity is there, and we've been seriously filtering it out. And we've been filtering it out on the basis of things that are not actually predictive of who's going to succeed and who's going to fail." Those things are, mostly, GRE scores and GPA.

    January 2nd, 2014


Hubble Postdoc, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Ph.D, University of Wisconsin-Madison

B.A., UC Berkeley


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