Michelle Thaller is an astronomer and nationally recognized science communicator at the California Institute of Technology. She currently manages the outreach office of the Spitzer Space Telescope, NASA’s infrared Great Observatory. Educated at Harvard and Georgia State University, Thaller has appeared on numerous popular science television series, including the History Channel’s Universe, National Geographic’s Engineering the Universe, and the Discovery Channel’s Wild Science. Thaller has been a columnist for The Christian Science Monitor and has contributed articles to Astronomy, Discover, Mercury,Engineering, and Science magazines. She also has published in professional astrophysics journals.
A sought-after public speaker, Thaller tries to make the public feel a true ownership in NASA science. Beginning in 2006, she started a program for public high-school teachers and students to conduct their own original observations using the Spitzer Space Telescope. Many scientific papers, newspaper articles, and awards later, this program ranks as one of NASA’s most successful in-depth public outreach efforts. One of Thaller’s stated goals is to drag NASA, kicking and screaming, into the age of New Media. She produces and hosts several podcast series including SpaceShip Spitzer, Ask an Astronomer, and the Robot Astronomy Talk Show. These web features have won several prestigious media awards, including four Tellys, two Aegis, and the CINE Golden Eagle Award. While NASA may not appreciate the humor of her “IRrelevant Astronomy” series, down-load numbers went over 12 million in 2009.
Residing in Pasadena, Thaller also runs a small Japanese antiques business and performs regularly at local museums as part of a 16th century dance troupe.