Curriculum Vitae

RESEARCH INTERESTS: History of Aerospace and Astronomy; History and Philosophy of Physics; Radio Astronomy; Soviet Science; Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI); Cold War History; History of Technology; Settler Science; Colonialism


Ph.D., History and Philosophy of Science
Christ’s College, University of Cambridge

M.Sc., Green Templeton College, University of Oxford

B.A., Rollins College


Jansky Fellow (August 2022 – Present)
National Radio Astronomy Observatory

Fellow of Aerospace History (January 2022 – June 2022)
NASA & History of Science Society

Historian-in-Residence (October 2020 – Present)
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

Visiting Assistant Scientist (August 2021 – February 2022)
National Radio Astronomy Observatory

Invigilator (October 2018 – March 2020)
Whipple Library for the History of Science (University of Cambridge)

Graduate Summer Research Assistant (May 2019 – August 2019)
National Radio Astronomy Observatory

Graduate Summer Research Assistant (June 2018 – August 2018)
National Radio Astronomy Observatory

Graduate Archival Intern (January 2018 – August 2018)
National Radio Astronomy Observatory

NASA History Graduate Intern (September 2017 – January 2018)
NASA Headquarters


Women in Technological History Prize, Society for the History of Technology (2021)

Dissertation Fellow, Mellon-Sawyer Seminar Histories of AI: A Genealogy of Power (2020)

Historical Astronomy Division of the American Astronomical Society Travel Award (2019)

Cambridge Research Photography Exhibition, Third Place (2019)

 Gates Cambridge Scholarship (2018)

Rhodes Scholarship Finalist (2018)

European Space Agency (ESA) Space History Conference ‘Best Paper for Ongoing Project’ (2017)

University of Oxford History and Philosophy of Physics Prize (2017)



Rebecca A. Charbonneau, Mixed Signals: Alien Communication Across the Iron Curtain (under contract with Polity Press, manuscript submitted June 2023)

Scholarly Journals:

Rebecca A. Charbonneau, “Imaginative Cosmos: The Impact of Colonial Heritage in Radio Astronomy and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence”, American Indian Culture and Research Journal, Special Issue “Settler Science, Alien Contact, and Searches for Intelligence”, eds. Kim Tallbear and David Shorter (Dec 2021).

Edited Collections:

Rebecca A. Charbonneau “The Making (and Remaking) of Imperial Myth During the Space Age” in Cosmic Fragments: Dislocation and Discontent in the Global Space Age (under peer review)

Rebecca A. Charbonneau “Historical Perspectives: Why SETI Developed During the Cold War” in Technosignatures for Detecting Intelligent Life in Our Universe: A Research Companion, eds Berea, Anamaria, Wiley-Scrivener (June 2022).

Book Reviews:

Rebecca A. Charbonneau, Review of Open Skies: The National Radio Astronomy Observatory and Its Impact on US Radio Astronomy by Kenneth I. Kellermann, Ellen Bouton, & Sierra Brandt. HAD News #96, November 2020.

Rebecca A. Charbonneau “Capturing the Human Side of Cold War Science”, Review of From Pugwash to Putin: A Critical History of US-Soviet Scientific Cooperation by Gerson Sher. Physics Today, May 2020.


“Creative Space: Art and Astronomy at the Center for Astrophysics”, exhibition held at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, MA (online exhibition here) (June 2022)

Conference Proceedings

Rebecca A. Charbonneau and Leonid Gurvits “CETI Across the Iron Curtain”, Proceedings of the 2022 International Astronautical Congress (September 2022)

Newsletters and Blogs:

Rebecca A. Charbonneau “Dismantling the Fathers of Invention“, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Galactic Gazette (June 2021).

Rebecca A. Charbonneau “The Cosmic Mirror”, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Galactic Gazette (April 2021).

Rebecca A. Charbonneau “The Mysterious Wow! Signal”American Astronomical Society Newsletter (August 2018).

Rebecca A. Charbonneau “How Shall We Remember Caroline Herschel?”American Astronomical Society Newsletter (March 2018). (Extended version)

Rebecca A. Charbonneau, “Different Worlds: The Challenges of US and Soviet SETI Collaboration During the Space Age”, NASA History Quarterly (December 2017), vol. 34, no. 4: 18-21.


HPS Part II Paper 6: “Science and Communism”
University of Cambridge (Michaelmas Term 2020)

Guest Lecturer
ASTRON 9 004: “Introduction to Astrobiology”
University of California, Berkeley (Summer Semester 2020)

HPS Part II Paper 3: “Science and Medicine Since World War I”
University of Cambridge (Lent and Easter Term 2020)

Bi-weekly Instructor
ASTR 1220: Science and Society in “Introduction to Stars, Galaxies, and the Universe”
University of Virginia (Spring Semester 2018)


History, Philosophy & Culture Working Group, Next Generation Event Horizon Telescope
Member (Oct 2022 – Present)

Scientific Organizing Committee, Penn State SETI Symposium 
Committee Member (Jan 2022 – Present)

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics Equity and Inclusion Journal Club
Co-Organizer (Spring 2021 – Spring 2022)

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics APS IDEA
10-Year Plan Committee (Nov 2020 – Present)

American Institute of Physics (AIP) Early Career Conference
Program Committee (Dec 2019 – Present)

International Astronomical Union (IAU) Working Group on Historical Radio Astronomy
Associate (May 2019 – Present)

American Astronomical Society (AAS) Historical Astronomy Division (HAD)
Executive Committee Member (Jan 2019 – Jan 2021)


First Contact, documentary with BBC World Service (broadcast date Dec 2022)

“Hydrogen” episode of BBC Science Studios “The Elements” (coming Dec 2022)

New York Times article on technosignatures

Interview with Scientific American on “decolonizing” SETI

LiveScience article on the Wow! Signal

Supercluster article on signaling extraterrestrials

MIT Undark article on SETI and Colonialism

National Geographic article on Project Ozma

Guest speaker on V2 rockets and Wernher von Braun for BBC 5’s “The Naked Scientist” show

The DCist article on Cold War UFOS

Guest speaker on Apollo 11 for BBC 5’s “The Naked Scientist” show

Guest speaker on space exploration history for BBC 5’s “The Naked Scientist” show


Lunch Talk, National Air and Space Museum
Washington, DC
Title: TBD

Colloquium, Columbia University
New York, New York (November 2022)
Title: “Radio Astronomy, SETI, and the Specter of the Cold War”

Colloquium, University of Arizona
Tuscon, Arizona (November 2022)
Title: “In Memory of Frank Drake: Rethinking the Value of SETI”

Foundations Seminar, Black Hole Initiative, Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts (October 2022)
Title: “How (Not) To Do A VLBI Experiment”

Colloquium, National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Charlottesville, Virginia (September 2022)
Title: “International Scientific Cooperation in Times of War”

Talk, The First Penn State SETI Symposium
State College, Pennsylvania (June 2022)
Title: “The Two Culture Problem: Social Sciences and SETI”

Panel, Cambridge University
Cambridge, England, UK (May 2022)
Title: “Oral History in HPS”

Seminar, AstrobiologyOU, The Open University
Milton Keynes, England, UK (TBD 2022)
Title: “Imaginative Cosmos: Interpreting Said’s Orientalism for the Space Age” 

NSF CIERA Seminar, Northwestern University
Chicago, Illinois (April 2022)
Title: “Astronomy and Warfare: Lessons Learned from Colonial America to the Cold War”

NASA History Lecture Series, NASA Headquarters
Washington, DC (March 2022)
Title: “Redefining SETI as a Cold War Science”

Panel, The American Indian Studies Research Center at UCLA
Los Angeles, California (February 2022)
Title: “Searching for Intelligence and Alien Contact”

Seminar, Extraterrestrial Intelligence Center (PSETI), Pennsylvania State University
State College, Pennsylvania (December 2021)
Title: “The Origins of the Post-Detection Protocol

World History Seminar, University of Cambridge
Cambridge, UK (October 2021)
Title: “Extraterrestrial Communication in the Cold War”

Research Forum, Department of Astronomy, Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts (October 2021)
Title: “Politics and Objectivity in Science”

Harvard Discovery Series, Harvard University Digital Scholarship
Cambridge, MA (September 2021)
Title: “The Figures in the Sky Initiative

Diversity and Inclusion Speaker Series, National Radio Astronomy Observatory
Charlottesville, VA (March 2021)
Title: “Historical Methods in Science Policy”

Colloquium, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Cambridge, MA (February 2021)
Title: “Observing the Past: Practical Applications of the History of Astronomy”

Colloquium, Centre for Astrophysics Research, University of Hertfordshire
Hertfordshire, England (February 2020)
Title: “The Surveillers: Navigating the Intersection between Astronomy and the Military”

‘Karoo Futures: Astronomy in Place and Space’ Symposium
Cambridge, England (October 2019)
Title: “The SKA and the Very Large Array in New Mexico: Comparative Perspectives”

International Academy of Astronautics SETI Collaborative Meeting
Digitally Broadcast (October 2019)
Title: “A Transnational History of SETI”

Colloquium, Berkeley SETI Research Center
Berkeley, CA (September 2019)
Title: “A Friendly Civilization: The Soviet Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence”

AstroBio2019: Moonshots and Earthshots in the Search for Life Beyond Earth
Green Bank, WV (July 2019)
Panel Title: SETI: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow (other panelists: Frank Drake, Jill Tarter, Andrew Siemion, Anamaria Berea, Jason Wright)

National Radio Astronomy Observatory “TUNA” Talk
Charlottesville, VA (July 2019)
Title: We Need to Change How We Talk About Space Exploration and Colonialism
Joint Talk with Nadia Drake (National Geographic)

Green Bank Observatory “Radio Boot Camp” Lecture
Green Bank, WV (June 2019)
Title: “Green Bank in the 1960s (Or, How NRAO Made First Contact)”

Gates Cambridge Scholar Talks
Cambridge, England (January 2019)
Title: “Where the Wired Things Are: Life Amongst the Telescopes in the Mountains”

Green Bank Observatory “Radio Boot Camp” Lecture
Green Bank, WV (June 2018)
Title: “SETI at Green Bank: 1960 – Present”

National Radio Astronomy Observatory “TUNA” Talk
Charlottesville, VA (May 2018)
Title: SETI: A Brief History


Talk, International Astronautical Congress (IAC)
Paris, France (September 2022)
Title: “CETI Across the Iron Curtain”

Panel, The First Penn State SETI Symposium
State College, Pennsylvania (June 2022)
Panel Title: “Post-Detection for the 2020s: Fundamentals, current concerns, new discussions”

Talk, American Astronomical Society (AAS)
Pasadena, California (June 2022)
Title: “The Early Observers of the Night Sky (EONS) Program”

Panel Society for the History of Technology (SHOT) Annual Conference
New Orleans, LA (November 2021)
Panel Title: “The Colonial Logic of Cosmic Infrastructure” (other panelists: Asif Siddiqi, Réka Gál, Gabrielle Hecht, and Adelheid Voskuhl)

The 2021 Assembly of the Order of the Octopus
Virtual (July 2021)
Panel title: “SETI and the Humanities” (other panelists: Chelsea Haramia, Julia DeMarines, Daniel de Paulis, Jessica Wahl, and Claire Webb)

The Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations (SHAFR) Annual Conference
Virtual due to coronavirus pandemic (June 2021)
Panel title: “US Cold War Engagement with Socialist Science” (other panelists: Audra Wolfe, Teasel Muir-Harmony, Tom Ellis and Pete Millwood)

American Astronomical Society (AAS)
Honolulu, Hawaii (January 2020)
Title: “The First US-USSR VLBI Experiment”

NRAO Summer Research Talk
Charlottesville, VA (August 2019)
Title: “The Journey to RadioAstron”

British Society for the History of Science Postgraduate Conference
Cambridge, England (April 2019)
Title: “Reaching a Resolution: The role of VLBI in establishing an international radio astronomy network during the Cold War”

American Astronomical Society (AAS)
Seattle, WA (January 2019)
Title: “Historians, Meet the Square Kilometre Array: Navigating the Methodological Challenges of (Very) Contemporary History”

NRAO Summer Research Talk
Charlottesville, VA (August 2018)
Title: “International Collaboration and the Square Kilometer Array”

University of Virginia Physics Honors Society
Charlottesville, VA (April 2018)
Title: “‘Martian Hunting at the Taxpayer’s Expense’: NASA’s Two Decades of SETI”

Bob Rood Symposium
Charlottesville, VA (March 2018)
Title: “‘Radio to Stars’: Interstellar Communication and the Creation of the Edwardian Genius”

American Astronomical Society (AAS)
Washington, D.C. (January 2018)
Title: “Mid-Twentieth Century Radio Astronomy and the Origin of the International SETI Network”

European Space Agency (ESA) Space History Conference
Padua, Italy (November 2017)
Title: “Radio Pioneers and the Origins of SETI in Europe” (Prize: Best Paper for Ongoing Project, selected for publication in proceedings)

University of Oxford HSMT Postgraduate Conference
Oxford, UK (June 2017)
Title: “Intelligent Life in the Universe: The Influence of Cosmism in Mid-Twentieth Century Astrophysics”

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