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 Astrophysics & Space Sciences: People
Stephen C. Unwin's Picture
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
M/S 301-170S
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA 91109
Curriculum Vitae:

Stephen C. Unwin

Dr. Unwin received his BA, MA, and PhD degrees from the University of Cambridge, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Caltech and later a Member of the Professional Staff. At Caltech, Dr. Unwin studied active galactic nuclei using VLBI and X-ray instruments and contributed to techniques for sparse-aperture imaging. For several years he was manager of the VLBI correlator, an essential component of the VLBI imaging system. His experience ranges from working with telescopes and instrumentation at OVRO, Parkes, Palomar, CSO, VLA, and VLBA, and with the ROSAT, FERMI, and Kepler spacecraft. He moved to JPL in 1996 to work on the Space Interferometry Mission, and was Deputy Project Scientist for the project during its long development.

Dr. Unwin has extensive experience in science requirements management and implementation in space instruments, and in end-to-end mission concept development. He has worked extensively with community-based science teams in his role in NASA's Exoplanet Exploration Program. He has been a co-I on several astrophysics mission proposals, and has led several proposal development teams.

He is a full member of the American Astronomical Society (served on Board of Directors 2014-17), a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, a member of the AAS Division on Dynamical Astronomy (Chair 2006-7), a member of the International Scientific Radio Union, and a member of the International Astronomical Union.

  • PhD, Radio Astronomy, University of Cambridge (1979)
  • MA, Clare College, University of Cambridge (1979)
  • BA, Physics and Theoretical Physics, Clare College, Cambridge (1976)

Research Interests
  • Extrasolar planets and debris disks
  • Active galactic nuclei
  • Astronomical instrumentation
  • Astronomy mission concept development


Kepler Icon Kepler
The Kepler Mission, NASA's mission to find how many potentially habitable exoplanets exist, launched in 2009 and is now finding thousands of exoplanet candidates.

SPHEREx will conduct an all-sky spectral survey in the near-infrared.

Professional Experience
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory (1996-Present)
    • Principal Scientist (2015-present)
    • Deputy Program Scientist, Exoplanet Exploration Program (2004-2015)
    • Deputy Director, JPL Center for Exoplanet Science (2006-2011)
    • Deputy Project Scientist, Space Interferometry Mission (1996-2010)
    • Section Staff, Interferometry and Large Optical Systems Section (2001-2008)
    • Deputy Project Scientist, Terrestrial Planet Finder Interferometer (2004-2007)
  • California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif. (1979-1996)
    • Member of the Professional Staff (1984-1996)
    • Manager of the VLBI Correlator (1984-1995)
    • Research Fellow and Staff Scientist in Radio Astronomy (1979-1984)

Community Service
  • Member of Board of Directors, American Astronomical Society (2014-17)
  • AAS Membership Committee (2018 - 2019)
  • AAS Task Force on Meetings (Chair 2015 - 2016)
  • AAS Agent for Los Angeles (2016 - present)
  • Brouwer Award Selection Committee Chair, Division on Dynamical Astronomy of the American Astronomical Society (2010)
  • Division Chair, Division on Dynamical Astronomy of the AAS (2006-2007)
  • NSF Management Review Committee of Arecibo Observatory (2007)
  • NAIC / Arecibo Users Committee, 2000-2003. Committee Chair (2003)
  • NASA proposal review panels (1994, 1998 - 1999, 2011 - 2017)
  • NASA Keck Time Allocation Committee (2013)
  • National Science Foundation proposal reviewer (2000-2005)
  • AAS / Division on Dynamical Astronomy, Committee member (2000-2002)
  • National Radio Astronomy Observatory Users Committee, 1992-95. Committee Chair (1995)

Selected Awards
  • NASA Group Achievement Award (1993 and 2011)
  • JPL Discovery Award (2017 and 2018)
  • JPL Voyager Award (2017)
  • JPL Mariner Award (2011)
  • JPL Explorer Award 2009
  • JPL Leadership Awards (2000 and 2007)

Selected Publications
  1. Doré, O., et al. (67 co-authors) 2016, “Science Impacts of the SPHEREx All-Sky Optical to Near-Infrared Spectral Survey: Report of a Community Workshop Examining Extragalactic, Galactic, Stellar and Planetary Science”, arXiv:1606.07039
  2. Doré, O., et al. (65 co-authors) 2018, “Science Impacts of the SPHEREx All-Sky Optical to Near-Infrared Spectral Survey II: Report of a Community Workshop on the Scientific Synergies Between the SPHEREx Survey and Other Astronomy Observatories”, arXiv: 1805.05489
  3. Spangelo, S.C., Katti, R.M., Unwin, S.C., & Bock, J.J. 2015, “All-sky survey mission observing scenario strategy”, JATIS, 10.1117/1.JATIS.1.3.037001
  4. Stapelfeldt, K.R., et al. 2015.  “Exo-C: a probe-scale space observatory for direct imaging and spectroscopy of extrasolar planetary systems”, SPIE, 10.1117/12.2191720.
  5. Makarov, V.V. & Unwin, S.C. 2015. “Radial velocities and binarity of southern SIM grid stars”, MNRAS, 446, 2055.
  6. Wherle, A.E., Wiita, P.J., Unwin, S.C., di Lorenzo, P., Revalski, M., Silano, D., & Sprague, D. 2013, "Kepler Photometry of Four Radio-loud Active Galactic Nuclei in 2010-2012", ApJ, 773, 89
  7. Unwin, S.C., and 16 co-authors, 2012, "Coronagraphic Imaging of Debris Disk From a High Altitude Balloon Platform", SPIE, 8442, 84420G
  8. Lawson, P.R., Traub, W.A. & Unwin, S.C. 2009, "Exoplanet Community Report", JPL Publication 09-3 3/2009
  9. Unwin, S.C., et al. (with 35 co-authors) 2008, "Taking the Measure of the Universe: Precision Astrometry with SIM PlanetQuest", PASP, 120, 38
  10. Unwin, S.C. 2005, "Precision Astrometry with the Space Interferometry Mission-PlanetQuest", Astrometry in the Age of the Next Generation of Large Telescopes, ASP Conference Series, 338, 37
  11. Unwin, S.C. and Stachnik, R. (eds.) 2000, "Working on the Fringe: Optical and IR Interferometry from ground and Space", ASP Conference Series, vol. 194, pp. 1-485
  12. Jenet, F.A., Anderson, S.B., Kaspi, V.M., Prince, T.A., & Unwin, S.C. 1998, "Radio Pulse Properties of the Millisecond Pulsar PSR J0437-4715", ApJ, 498, 365
  13. Unwin, S.C., Wehrle, A.E., Urry, C.M., Gilmore, D.M., Barton, E.J., Kjerulf, B.C., Zensus, J.A., & Rabaca, C.R. 1994, "Inverse-Compton X-ray Emission from the Superluminal Quasar 3C 345", ApJ, 432, 103
  14. Unwin, S.C. 1983, "Neutral Hydrogen in the Andromeda Nebula", MNRAS, 205,773
  15. Unwin, S.C., Readhead, A.C.S., Wilkinson, & P.N., Ewing, M.S. 1978, "Phase Stability in the Drifting Subpulse Pattern of PSR 0809+74", MNRAS 182, 711

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