Heidi Hammel
Senior Research Scientist, Space Science Institute

What Do You Believe?

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Heidi Hammel believes religion and science are not mutually exclusive.

Heidi Hammel

Heidi B. Hammel joined The Planetary Society's Board of Directors in 2005.  A Senior Research Scientist with the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado, Hammel herself lives in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

She received her undergraduate degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1982 and her Ph.D. in physics and astronomy from the University of Hawaii in 1988.  After a post-doctoral position at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (Pasadena, California), Hammel returned to MIT, where she spent nearly nine years as a Principal Research Scientist in the Department of Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Sciences.

Hammel primarily studies outer planets and their satellites, with a focus on observational techniques.  Hammel received the  2002 American Astronomical Society's Division for Planetary Sciences (AAS/DPS) Sagan Medal for outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist to the general public .


Topic: What do you believe?

Heidi Hammel: What I think these really cosmic and mind bending things do, is they give humans the freedom to play with their imagination. And I think that people shouldn’t be scared of it. If you, someone who believes devoutly in God, this just talks to the wonder of God’s creation and God’s creativity, that he’s made this amazing world that we are privileged to be allowed to explore. I don’t think there’s any inherent conflict. I think religion and science operate in different regimes. Religion is a belief system that tries to give meaning and comprehension to peoples’ lives. Science is more about the mechanics of the universe around us, and the way in which it works. And I don’t think those things have to be mutually exclusive.