Charged with determining the existence of life elsewhere in the universe, the Chairman of the Breakthrough Prize Foundation – an international, intensified extraterrestrial search spearheaded by Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking – is coming to Western University.

Brigadier General Pete Worden, recently retired director of NASA’s Ames Research Center, will deliver the 2016 Centre for Planetary Science and Exploration (CPSX) Distinguished Lecture on Thursday, February 4.

A public lecture titled From General Relativity to Life in the Universe: A Century of Breakthrough Science will be presented by Worden at 7 p.m. in the Western Science Centre, Room 55.

Prior to becoming NASA Ames director, Worden was a research professor of Astronomy, Optical Sciences and Planetary Sciences at the University of Arizona where his primary research direction was the development of large space optics for national security and scientific purposes and near-earth asteroids. Worden has authored or co-authored more than 150 scientific technical papers in astrophysics, space sciences, and strategic studies and served as a scientific co-investigator for two NASA space science missions.

Milner, Hawking, Worden and their collaborators announced the unprecedented $100 million global Breakthrough Initiatives to reinvigorate the search for life in the universe last year on July 20, 2015 at The Royal Society.

The first of two initiatives announced were Breakthrough Listen, the most powerful, comprehensive and intensive scientific search ever undertaken for signs of intelligent life beyond Earth, and Breakthrough Message, which funds an international competition to generate messages representing humanity and planet Earth that might one day be sent to other civilizations.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jeff Renaud, Senior Media Relations Officer, 519-661-2111, ext. 85165,, @jeffrenaud99

Western University delivers an academic experience second to none. Since 1878, The Western Experience has combined academic excellence with life-long opportunities for intellectual, social and cultural growth in order to better serve our communities. Our research excellence expands knowledge and drives discovery with real-world application. Western attracts individuals with a broad worldview, seeking to study, influence and lead in the international community.