Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

Background photo: central region of the Galaxy by Yuri Beletsky, Carnegie Las Campanas Observatory


The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) addresses one of the most important questions of all time: Are there other civilizations out there?

Prospects for life elsewhere

Based on observations from the NASA Kepler telescope, we know that there are billions of habitable worlds in our galaxy. You do the math.

Prospects for establishing contact

Radio telescopes can detect signals emitted thousands of light years away, enabling contact from a large fraction of the Milky Way Galaxy.

Prospects for humanity

Imagine what we could learn if we received signals from an advanced civilization. Imagine the benefits to science, engineering, medicine, the arts, and philosophy.


Carl Sagan vigorously promoted SETI. His position was endorsed by many other eminent scientists. Jill Tarter devoted her career to SETI.


The results of the first part of our search are published in the Astronomical Journal. Results were highlighted in a story in Universe Today.

SETI course at UCLA

Students can learn valuable workplace skills (telecommunications, computer science, signal processing, statistical analysis) in the context of SETI. I am teaching a course in which students obtain and analyze data from large radio telescopes. Watch our video about the course.

Photo of Spring 2016 UCLA SETI class
Spring 2016 UCLA SETI class with Larry Lesyna
Photo of Spring 2017 UCLA SETI class
Spring 2017 UCLA SETI class with Michael Thacher
Photo of Spring 2018 UCLA SETI class
Spring 2018 UCLA SETI class

How you can help

With your help, we can

  • Enable the purchase of equipment and telescope time to collect data
  • Improve the training of the next generation of scientists and engineers
  • Help bring the excitement of SETI to the UCLA classroom and the general public

Traditional sources of funding (e.g., NASA, NSF) do not support SETI work. An endowed graduate student or postdoctoral fellowship will enable a sustained SETI research program. Imagine what we could learn.

Donor Recognition

Our SETI teaching and research would not be possible without the generous gifts of our donors. We are extremely grateful for their support!

  • EPSS Board Member Janet Marott kick-started the course and enabled the purchase of a 100 TB storage server.
  • Larry Lesyna enabled the Spring 2016, 2017, and 2018 course offerings with gifts each year.
  • David Saltzberg has been an early supporter of our SETI initiative with gifts in 2016 and 2017.
  • Michael W. Thacher and Rhonda L. Rundle enabled the purchase of telescope time for the Spring 2017 and 2018 course offerings.
  • Arnie Boyarsky enabled the purchase of telescope time for the Spring 2017 course offering.
  • Gary and Nancy Beverage enabled the purchase of telescope time for the Spring 2018 course offering.

Get involved

Subscribe to our newsletter, read past issues, or get in touch. Watch a two-minute video about the UCLA SETI course or a 30-minute talk about the search for life in the universe. If you wish to contribute, you can make a tax-deductible donation on the secure UCLA giving site.