From the origins of the Big Bang to the composition of dark energy, dark matter and black holes, USC Dornsife cosmologists Vera Gluscevic and Elena Pierpaoli are searching for answers to the mysteries of the universe.

We have been fascinated by the wonders of the universe and have endeavored to understand our place within it since our earliest ancestors first gazed up in awe at the night sky. So, how did ancient civilizations make sense of the cosmos — and what did they get right?

Our sense of wonder at the cosmos, and our desire to try to make sense of our place within it, have inspired generations of artists, writers, designers, musicians and filmmakers.

With many countries, companies and individuals intensifying their space exploration programs, questions about rights, ownership and the feasibility of manned space missions are coming to the fore of public debate.

For many scientists, it’s no longer a question of “if” but “when” we encounter alien life. So, what will happen when humans finally do come face-to-face with E.T.?

Alumni Laurie Barge ’09 and Scott Perl ’19 co-lead a laboratory at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. There, they search for the origins of life on Earth to better understand how life might develop elsewhere in the universe.

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Crisann Begley-Smith, Maddy Davis, Eric Lindberg, Marc Merhej, Jenesse Miller, Tia Richards