Clara Sousa Silva 600

Clara Sousa-Silva

Science communicator and molecular astrophysicist

Clara Sousa Silva

Clara Sousa-Silva is a science communicator and a molecular astrophysicist at MIT.

She uses computer simulations and quantum chemistry to figure out what molecules look like when they interact with light. Clara then uses these molecular fingerprints to deduce what the composition of any atmosphere is, be it on Earth or elsewhere in the galaxy. In her words: "Light from an atmosphere can tell us so much - whether we are seeing pollution, oceans or even life. But without knowing what each meaningful molecule looks like, that light is indecipherable. That's why my work is crucial if we want to understand alien worlds, and eventually detect a new Earth."