Steven J. Dick - Career


Steven J. Dick received a Bachelor of Science in astrophysics from Indiana University in 1971. In 1977, he obtained a Master of Arts and a Ph.D. in the history and philosophy of science. For 24 years, Dick worked as an astronomer and historian of science for United States Naval Observatory in Washington, D.C., including three years at the Naval Observatory's Southern Hemisphere station in New Zealand. In 2003, he was named the Chief Historian for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). From 2011-2012 he held the Charles A. Lindbergh Chair in Aerospace History at the National Air & Space Museum.

During his years at NASA, Dick edited numerous volumes on the societal impact of space flight and on the occasion of the 50th anniversaries of NASA and the space age. Dick also received the NASA Group Achievement Award "for initiating the new NASA multidisciplinary program in astrobiology, including the definition of the field of astrobiology, the formulation and initial establishment of the NASA Astrobiology Institute, and the development of a Roadmap to guide future NASA investments in astrobiology." Dick's published work in the field of astrobiology includes Plurality of Worlds: The Origins of the Extraterrestrial Life Debate from Democritus to Kant (Cambridge University Press, 1982); The Biological Universe: The Twentieth Century Extraterrestrial Life Debate and the Limits of Science (Cambridge University Press, 1996); Life on Other Worlds: The 20th Century Extraterrestrial Life Debate (1998), and, with James Strick, The Living Universe: NASA and the Development of Astrobiology (2005). He has also surveyed the field in "Critical Issues in the History, Philosophy, and Sociology of Astrobiology" (Astrobiology, Vol. 12, No. 10, 2012).

Dick served as Chairman of the Historical Astronomy Division of the American Astronomical Society (1993–1994), as President of the History of Astronomy Commission of the International Astronomical Union (1997-2000) and as President of the Philosophical Society of Washington. He is on the editorial board for the Journal for the History of Astronomy and the Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage.

Dr. Dick is the recipient of the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the Navy Meritorious Civilian Service Medal. In 2006, Dick received the LeRoy E. Doggett Prize from the American Astronomical Society for a career that has significantly influenced the field of the history of astronomy. Also in 2006, Dick was selected to deliver the first Billingham Cutting Edge Lecture, at the International Astronautical Congress in Valencia, Spain. In 2009, minor planet 6544 Stevendick was named in his honor.

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