Dava Sobel, a former New York Times science reporter, is the author of Longitude, Galileo's Daughter, The Planets, and A More Perfect Heaven. In her forty years as a science journalist she has written for many magazines, including Audubon, Discover, Life, and The New Yorker, served as a contributing editor to Harvard Magazine and Omni, and co-authored five books, including Is Anyone Out There? with astronomer Frank Drake. Ms. Sobel received the 2001 Individual Public Service Award from the National Science Board "for fostering awareness of science and technology among broad segments of the general public." Also in 2001, the Boston Museum of Science gave her its prestigious Bradford Washburn Award for her "outstanding contribution toward public understanding of science, appreciation of its fascination, and the vital role it plays in all our lives." In October 2004, in London, Ms. Sobel received the Harrison Medal from the Worshipful Company of Clockmakers, in recognition of her contribution to increasing awareness of the science of horology by the general public, through her writing and lecturing. In 2008 the Astronomical Society of the Pacific gave her its Klumpke-Roberts Award for "increasing the public understanding and appreciation of astronomy."
Her GREAT Day keynote is entitled "Bringing Copernicus to Life in Prose and Script." In 2006 her stage play about sixteenth-century astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus, called And the Sun Stood Still was commissioned by the Manhattan Theatre Club through the Alfred P. Sloan Initiative, and was also supported by a Fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. Sobel stated that "My play about Copernicus, And the Sun Stood Still, portrays the events that made him buck common sense and received wisdom to defend the Earth's motion around the Sun. The theme of the piece is a familiar favorite of mine: the great transformation of humankind's worldview through science."
In May 2011, as the Elizabeth Kirkpatrick Doenges Visiting Artist/Scholar, Ms. Sobel taught a course called "Writing Creatively about Science" at Mary Baldwin College in Staunton, Virginia. Starting in 2013, she will begin a two-year appointment as the Joan Leiman Jacobson Writer-in- Residence at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. Lecture engagements have taken Ms. Sobel to speak at The Smithsonian Institution, The Explorers' Club, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, The Folger Shakespeare Library, The New York Public Library, The Hayden Planetarium, The Royal Geographical Society (London), and the American Academy in Rome. She has been a frequent guest on National Public Radio programs, including "All Things Considered," "Fresh Air," and "The Diane Rheem Show." Her television appearances include CSPAN's "Booknotes" and "TODAY" on NBC. She contributes an occasional column to Discover Magazine called "Field Notes," describing what scientists actually do when they are "doing research." A 1964 graduate of the Bronx High School of Science, Ms. Sobel attended Antioch College and the City College of New York before receiving her bachelor of arts degree from the State University of New York at Binghamton in 1969. She holds honorary doctor of letters degrees from the University of Bath, in England, and Middlebury College, Vermont, both awarded in 2002.