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Alan Lightman, PhD is a physicist, novelist and essayist. He studied physics at Princeton University and then received a PhD in theoretical physics from CalTech. Before coming to MIT, he was on the faculty of Harvard University. At MIT, Dr. Lightman was one of the first people to receive a dual faculty appointment in science and humanities and was the John Bircher professor of humanities before becoming an adjunct professor to allow more time for his writing.

Dr. Lightman is the author of five novels, two collections of essays, and several books on science. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Granta, The New Yorker, and The New York Review of Books, among other publications. His novel Einstein's Dreams was an international bestseller and has been translated into 30 languages. His novel The Diagnosis was a finalist for the 2000 National Book Award in Fiction. His most recent books are Screening Room: a Memoir of the South, which was named one of the best books of 2015 by The Washington Post, and The Accidental Universe, named by Brain Pickings as one of the best books of 2016.

He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has won numerous other awards, and is a recipient of five honorary degrees. Dr. Lightman is also the founding director of the Harpswell Foundation, which works to empower a new generation of women leaders in Cambodia. He has also lectured at more than 100 universities nationwide about the similarities and differences in the ways that scientists and artists view the world.