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"YES, you can have it ALL - just don't expect it to be easy (actually it won't just be hard, it will be massively difficult, but worth every struggle). Try to ignore gender biased counseling, and do whatever it is you love to do."
Jill Tarter

Jill Tarter - Looking for Life
In 1985, Carl Sagan's novel, "Contact," was released. It tells the story of Ellie Arroway, a radio astronomer, and her search for extraterrestrial intelligence. In 1997, the movie by the same name was released with Jodie Foster playing Ellie.

Meet a real-life Ellie Arroway...Dr. Jill Tarter. Though the character in Sagan's book was not based on Dr. Tarter, there are a lot of similarities.

Dr. Tarter is the Director of the Center for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI)  Research and is a Principle Investigator on Voyages Through Time, a high school science curriculum based on evolution that the SETI Institute is developing. She also holds the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI.

The SETI Institute is a private organization looking for life in the Universe. Radio astronomy is used in their search for "extraterrestrial technologies". Finding such signals may indicate intelligent life other than that found on Earth.

Links on the Web

Using your favorite search engine, you will find many sites on Dr. Tarter. Here are a few we found particularly interesting.


ABC News - 1999 live chat transcript with Dr. Tarter.


Contact, the movie - The official Web site for the movie. (I love the sound-bite as the page loads!)


Cornell University - A biography on Dr. Tarter at the university where she received her degree in engineering physics, which she thought was "boring."


History of Women in Astronomy - This biography is a little dated, but still full of useful information.


Rosette Gazette - An interview with Dr. Tarter by Rose City Astronomers' Bob McGown and Dareth Murray as published in the March 2002 society newsletter.


SETI - This is the organization that is searching for sentient life in the Universe. Dr. Tarter is Director of the Center for SETI Research, a Principal Investigator for the upcoming Voyages Through Time CD-ROM, and the Bernard M. Oliver Chair for SETI.

Contact - SETI's site on the movie. Here are some comments from Dr. Tarter about the movie. You will also find another reality-inspired character, Kent Clark, the blind researcher.


Director Profile - SETI's profile on Dr. Tarter as Director of the Center for SETI Research.


Bernard M. Oliver Chair - SETI's profile on Dr. Tarter as the first appointee to this chair.


Space.com - Here is another 1999 interview with Dr. Tarter on one of the Web's best sites on space and astronomy.

On the remote chance that you were abducted by LGMs (little green men) and haven't read the book or seen the movie, you may order them through this Web site at Amazon.com. By using the links below to place your order, you will help theWoman Astronomer pay for this Web site.

Contact, A novel by Carl Sagan, ©1985, 1997
When I first read this book, I really enjoyed the story, though I thought the characters were a little bland. I've since changed my opinion, in large part, because of Jodie Foster's excellent performance in the movie version. Get the VHS Contact or the DVD Contact to add to your video library.

I would like to thank the SETI Institute for their assistance with this page by providing the above image of Dr. Tarter, as well as her quote. I would also like to thank Chris Neller at SETI for checking the accuracy of this page.


Updated 20.10.2022
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