Mike Brown scans the skies searching for and intensely studying distant bodies in our solar system in the hope of gaining insight into how our planet and the planets around it came to be.
Why you should listenMike Brown has discovered dozens of dwarf planets (and demoted one object from planet to dwarf planet) and is currently hot on the trail of Planet Nine -- a hypothesized body that is possibly the fifth largest planet of our solar system.
Brown is the Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor of Planetary Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology and has been on the faculty there since 1996. He has won many awards and honors for his scholarship, including the Urey Prize for best young planetary scientist from the American Astronomical Society's Division of Planetary Sciences; a Presidential Early Career Award; a Sloan Fellowship; the 2012 Kavli Prize in Astrophysics; and, of course, the one that started his career, an honorable mention in his fifth-grade science fair. He was inducted into the National Academy of Science in 2014. He was also named one of Wired Online's Top Ten Sexiest Geeks in 2006, the mention of which never ceases to make his wife laugh.
Brown received his AB from Princeton in 1987 and his MA and PhD from University of California, Berkeley, in 1990 and 1994, respectively. He is the author of How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming, a memoir of the discoveries leading to the demotion of Pluto.