About Jesus College/Our community/ People
Dr Sarah Rugheimer

Roles and subjects

Hugh Price Fellow

Academic Background

BSc, MA, PhD

Sarah Rugheimer earned her bachelor’s degree in physics at the University of Calgary, graduating at the top of her class, receiving the Venkatesan Silver Medallion. She then went on to Harvard University, earning her M.A. and Ph.D. there in Astronomy and Astrophysics. While at Harvard, her PhD thesis was selected as one of eight graduate students in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences to be a Harvard Horizons fellow, at the end of which she gave a five minute public talk on her work. She then received a three year Simons Origins of Life Research Fellowship which she took to the University of St. Andrews and now has a Glasstone Research Fellowship at Oxford and Hugh Price Fellowship at Jesus College. She is a TED 2020 Fellow and has received several high profile awards for her research and outreach in astronomy and astrobiology including the inaugural Caroline Herschel Prize in 2018, the BSA Rosalind Franklin Prize in 2019, and the Barrie Jones Award in 2019. In May 2018, she was invited to give the commencement address at Flathead Valley Community College, focusing on self-care and going for opportunities despite feelings of the impostor syndrome.

Undergraduate Teaching

Sarah Rugheimer has taught undergraduate astronomy and astrobiology. She designed a course called “Life on Earth and Beyond” which goes through the origin of life on Earth and prospects for detecting life on other planets. She taught this course at Tufts University and the University of St. Andrews. At Harvard she taught three astronomy courses, receiving a Distinction in Teaching Award for the “The Energetic Universe.”

Postgraduate Teaching

Astronomy and Planetary Science – Sarah has been a teaching fellow at Harvard for one course at the graduate level on stellar astrophysics.

Research Interests

Dr. Sarah Rugheimer is an astrophysicist working on how to detect life on an exoplanet. Her research interests are modeling the atmosphere and climate of extrasolar planets with a particular focus on atmospheric biosignatures in Earth-like planets as well as modeling early Earth conditions. Her focus has been on the star-planet interaction and how the UV environment of the host star influences the atmosphere and detectable features of terrestrial worlds.

Other Interests

Sarah is an advocate for Women in STEM, hosting a resource page as well as mentoring students and co-hosting a podcast called “Self-care with Drs. Sarah” aimed at junior scientists navigating academia. She is also involved with outreach and has been on NPR and BBC discussing her work on modeling the atmosphere and climate of extrasolar planets.

Her other passions include dance and mountaineering. She competed internationally in Irish dance for 11 years, twice going to the North American Irish Dance Championships. She also enjoys ballroom dance, swing, and Argentine tango. She also dabbles in high altitude mountaineering on holidays. She has climbed Aconcagua (6962m / 22,841′), Chimborazo – Veintimellia (6230m / 20,440’), Cayambe (5790m / 18,996’), Kilimanjaro (5895m / 19,341’), Mt. Rainier (4392m / 14,410’), and Mt. Baker (3296m / 10,781).