Skip over navigation

Christopher Chyba

Professor of Astrophysical Sciences and International Affairs; Director, Program on Science & Global Security

Christopher Chyba is professor of astrophysical sciences and international affairs at Princeton University, where he directs the Program on Science and Global Security at the Woodrow Wilson School. His security-related research emphasizes nuclear and biological weapons policy, arms control, and nonproliferation. His scientific research focuses on solar system exploration and the search for life elsewhere. Prior to coming to Princeton, Chyba co-directed Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC). He was also associate professor of geological and environmental sciences at Stanford, and held the Carl Sagan Chair at the SETI Institute.

Chyba served on the White House staff from 1993-1995, entering as a White House Fellow, serving on the National Security Council staff, and then in the National Security Division of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. As a consultant after leaving the White House, he drafted President Clinton's directive on responding to emerging infectious diseases. In 1996, Chyba received the Presidential Early Career Award, "for demonstrating exceptional potential for leadership at the frontiers of science and technology during the 21st century." In 2001, he was named a MacArthur Fellow for his work in both international security and planetary science.

Chyba currently serves on the National Academy of Sciences' Committee for International Security and Arms Control, is past chair of the National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies' Committee on Preventing the Forward Contamination of Mars, and past member of the National Academy’s Committee on Advances in Technology and the Prevention of Their Application to Next Generation Biowarfare Threats. He served on the executive committee of NASA's Space Science Advisory Committee, for which he chaired the Solar System Exploration Subcommittee, and chaired the Science Definition Team for NASA’s Europa Orbiter mission.

In summer 2009, Chyba served on the Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee. In April 2009, he was named by President Obama to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).

A physics graduate of Swarthmore College, Chyba holds an MPhil from Cambridge University, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and a PhD in astronomy and space sciences from Cornell University
 

CHRISTOPHER F. CHYBA

Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs & Department of Astrophysical Sciences
Princeton University,
218 Bendheim Hall, Princeton, NJ 08544-1013
Phone 609-258-5633 ∙ Fax 609-924-8615 ∙ Email cchyba@princeton.edu

SELECTED PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE

2005 - present

PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, PRINCETON, NJ
PROFESSOR OF ASTROPHYSICS AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS;
DIRECTOR, PROGRAM ON SCIENCE AND GLOBAL SECURITY, WOODROW WILSON SCHOOL OF PUBLIC AND INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Policy research in international security, nuclear and biological weapons proliferation and arms control, and space weapons. Scientific research in planetary and space sciences.
 

2000 - 2005

STANFORD UNIVERSITY, STANFORD, CA
CO-DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AND COOPERATION (CISAC);
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF GEOLOGICAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES

Co-led interdisciplinary research and training center addressing international security challenges. Co-chaired bilaterals with Russian Academy of Sciences’ Committee for Global Security and Arms Control.

1993 - 1995

THE WHITE HOUSE, WASHINGTON, DC

WHITE HOUSE FELLOW; NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL STAFF, DIRECTOR FOR INTERNATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS (1993-1994); Office of Science and Technology Policy staff, Division of National Security and International Affairs, energy liaison (1994-1995)

Subsequently hired as contractor to draft Presidential Decision Directive on emerging infectious diseases response strategy (1995-1996), then to produce strategy for improving readiness for bioterrorism (1997-1998).

2002 - present

NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AND ARMS CONTROL
MEMBERSHIP SUBCOMMITTEE CHAIR

Track-two diplomacy bilaterals primarily on nuclear weapons issues with Chinese, Indian, and Pakistani counterpart committees.

2004 - 2006

INSTITUTE OF MEDICINE/NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL COMMITTEE ON ADVANCES IN TECHNOLOGY AND THE PREVENTION OF THEIR APPLICATIONS TO NEXT GENERATION BIOWARFARE THREATS

Produced two reports (requested by U.S. government) on advances in biotechnology, its globalization, and implications for biosecurity

1999 - 2000
NASA SPACE SCIENCE ADVISORY COMMITTEE
EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE; SOLAR SYSTEM EXPLORATION SUBCOMMITTEE CHAIR

Recommended priorities for NASA space sciences; drafted prioritized roadmap for solar system exploration missions.

SELECTED PROFESSIONAL HONORS
 

2001 - 2006
MACARTHUR FELLOW

1996
PRESIDENTIAL EARLY CAREER AWARD FOR SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS

1993-1994
WHITE HOUSE FELLOW

SELECTED PUBLICATIONS IN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY

C.F. Chyba, Biological Terrorism, Emerging Diseases, and National Security, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Inc., New York, 1998, http://www.rbf.org/Chyba_Bioterrorism.pdf , 28 pp.

C.F. Chyba, G.E. van der Vink, and C.B. Hennet, “Monitoring the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: Possible ambiguities due to meteorite impacts,” Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 25, 1998, pp. 191-194.

C.F. Chyba, “Biological terrorism and public health,” Survival, vol. 43, 2001, pp. 93-106.   Reprinted in A. O’Day, ed., Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism (Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., Aldershot, 2004), pp. 115-128.

C.F. Chyba, “Microbe warfare hides the enemy,” New York Times, August 10, 2001, Op-Ed.

C.F. Chyba, “Editorial: Biological security in a changed world,” Science, vol. 293, 2001, p. 2349.

C.F. Chyba, “Russia's Poison Gases,” New York Times, October 30, 2002, Op-Ed.

C.F. Chyba, “Toward Biological Security,” Foreign Affairs, vol. 81, no. 3, May/June 2002, pp. 122-136.   Reprinted in R.D. Howard and R.L. Sawyer, eds., Terrorism and Counterterrorism: Understanding the New Security Environment (McGraw-Hill/Dushkin, Guilford Connecticut, 2004), pp. 198-207.

C. Braun and C.F. Chyba, “Proliferation Rings: New Challenges to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime,” International Security vol. 29, no. 2, Fall 2004, pp. 5-49.

C.F. Chyba and A.L. Greninger, “Biotechnology and Bioterrorism: An Unprecedented World,” Survival vol. 46, no. 2, Summer 2004, pp. 143-162.

Committee on International Security and Arms Control (National Academy of Sciences), Monitoring Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear-Explosive Materials: An Assessment of Methods and Capabilities, National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2005, 250 pp.

G. Bunn and C.F. Chyba, eds., U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy: Confronting Today’s Threats (Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2006), 340 pp.

Committee on Advances in Technology and the Prevention of Their Application to Next Generation Biowarfare Threats (Institute of Medicine and National Research Council), An International Perspective on Advancing Technologies and Strategies for Managing Dual-Use Risks: Report of a Workshop (National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2005), 141 pp.

C.F. Chyba and K. Sasikumar, “A World of Risk: The Current Environment for U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy,” in G. Bunn and C.F. Chyba, eds., U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy: Confronting Today’s Threats (Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2006), pp. 1-33.

C.F. Chyba, C. Braun, and G. Bunn, “New Challenges to the Nonproliferation Regime,” in G. Bunn and C.F. Chyba, eds., U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy: Confronting Today’s Threats (Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2006), pp. 126-160.

C.F. Chyba, C. Braun, and G. Bunn, “Strategies for Tackling Proliferation Challenges,” in G. Bunn and C.F. Chyba, eds., U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy: Confronting Today’s Threats (Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2006), pp. 161-219.

G. Bunn and C.F. Chyba, “U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policies for a New Era,” in G. Bunn and C.F. Chyba, eds., U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy: Confronting Today’s Threats (Washington DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2006), pp. 297-323.

C.F. Chyba, “Biotechnology and the Challenge to Arms Control,” Arms Control Today 36(8), October 2006, pp. 11-17.

Committee on Advances in Technology and the Prevention of Their Application to Next Generation Biowarfare Threats (Institute of Medicine and National Research Council), Globalization, Biosecurity, and the Future of the Life Sciences. (National Academies Press, Washington, D.C., 2006). 318 pp.

J.D. Koenig and C.F. Chyba, “Impact Deflection of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids Using Current Launch Vehicles,” Science and Global Security, vol. 15, no. 1, 2007, pp. 57-83.

C.F. Chyba, “Second-Tier Suppliers and Their Threat to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Regime,” in J.F. Pilat, Ed., Atoms for Peace: A Future after Fifty Years? (Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, Baltimore, 2007), pp. 117-127.

C.F. Chyba, “Time for Comprehensive Policies on Nuclear and Biological Weapons,” in J. Laurenti and C. Robichaud, Eds., Breaking the Nuclear Impasses: New Prospects for Security Against Weapons Threats, Century Foundation, New York, 2007, pp. 51-60.

A. Nouri and C.F. Chyba, “Biotechnology and Biosecurity,” in N. Bostrom and M.M. Cirkovic, Global Catastrophic Risks, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2008, pp. 450-480.

C.F. Chyba, “U.S. Nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Proliferation,” Arms Control Today, to be published December 2008.

C.F. Chyba and J.D. Crouch, “Key Divergent Views On U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy,” Washington Quarterly, submitted.


A. Nouri and C.F. Chyba, "Proliferation-Resistant Biotechnology: A Novel Approach to Improve Biological Security,” Nature Biotechnology, submitted.

A. Nouri and C.F. Chyba, “Using DNA Sequencing to Improve Biological Security,” Science, submitted.

SELECTED SCIENTIFIC PUBLICATIONS

C.F. Chyba, “Time-dependent embeddings for Schwarzschild-like solutions to the gravitational field equations,” Journal of Mathematical Physics, vol. 23, 1982, pp. 1662-1667.

C.F. Chyba, “Kaluza-Klein unified field theory and apparent four-dimensional spacetime,” American Journal of Physics vol. 53, 1985, pp. 863-872.

C. Chyba and C. Sagan, “Cometary organics but no evidence for bacteria,” Nature, vol. 329, 1987, p. 208.

C. Chyba and C. Sagan, “Infrared emission by organic grains in the coma of comet Halley,” Nature vol. 330, 1987, pp. 350-353.

C. F. Chyba, “The cometary contribution to the oceans of primitive Earth,” Nature vol. 330, 1987, pp. 632-635.

B.A. Smith et al., “Voyager 2 at Neptune: Imaging science results,” Science, vol. 246, 1989, pp. 1422-1449.

C.F. Chyba, D.G. Jankowski, and P.D. Nicholson, “Orbital evolution in the Neptune-Triton system,” Astronomy and Astrophysics, vol. 219, 1989, pp. L23-L26.

C.F. Chyba, C. Sagan, and M.J. Mumma , “The heliocentric evolution of infrared cometary spectra: results from an organic grain model,” Icarus, vol. 79, 1989, pp. 362-381.

D.G. Jankowski, C.F. Chyba, and P.D. Nicholson, “On the obliquity and tidal heating of Triton,” Icarus, vol. 80, 1989, pp. 211-219.

C.F. Chyba, “Impact delivery and erosion of planetary oceans in the early solar system,” Nature, vol. 343, 1990, pp. 129-133.

C.F. Chyba, P.J. Thomas, L. Brookshaw, and C. Sagan, “Cometary delivery of organic molecules to the early Earth,” Science, vol. 249, 1990, pp. 366-373. Reprinted in Origins of

Life: The Central Concepts   (eds. D.W. Deamer and G.R. Fleischaker), pp. 213-220, Jones and Bartlett, Boston (1994).

C. Sagan and C. Chyba, “Triton's streaks as windblown dust,” Nature, vol. 346, 1990, pp. 546-548.

C.F. Chyba, “News and Views: Extraterrestrial amino acids and terrestrial life,” Nature, vol. 348, 1990, pp. 113-114.   Reprinted in D.B. Cline, ed., Physical Origin of Homochirality in Life (American Institute of Physics, Woodbury, New York, 1996), pp.   3-4.

C.F. Chyba, “Terrestrial mantle siderophiles and the lunar impact record,” Icarus, vol. 92, 1991, pp. 217-233.

C. Chyba and C. Sagan, “Endogenous production, exogenous delivery and impact-shock synthesis of organic molecules: an inventory for the origins of life,” Nature, vol. 355, 1992, pp. 125-132. Reprinted in Origins of Life: The Central Concepts   (eds. D.W. Deamer and G.R. Fleischaker), pp. 123-130, Jones and Bartlett, Boston (1994).

C.F. Chyba, P.J. Thomas, and K.J. Zahnle, “The 1908 Tunguska explosion: atmospheric disruption of a stony asteroid,” Nature vol. 361, 1993, pp. 40-44.

C.F. Chyba, “Explosions of small Spacewatch objects in the Earth's atmosphere,” Nature, vol. 363, 1993, pp. 701-703.

C.F. Chyba, “The violent environment of the origins of life: progress and uncertainties,” Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta   vol. 57, 1993, pp. 3351-3358.

C. Chyba and C. Sagan, “Electrical energy sources for organic synthesis on the early Earth,” Origins of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere vol. 21, 1993, pp. 3-17.

C.F. Chyba and G.W. McDonald, “The origin of life in the Solar System: current issues,” Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences. Vol. 24, 1995, pp. 215-249.   Reprinted in Origins of Planets and Life (ed. J. Melosh), pp. 265-299, Ann. Rev. Inc., Palo Alto, 1997.

C.F. Chyba, T.C. Owen, and W.-H. Ip, “Impact delivery of volatiles and organic molecules to Earth,” in T. Gehrels, Ed., Hazards Due to Comets and Asteroids, University of Arizona, Tucson, 1995, pp. 9-58.

C. Sagan and C. Chyba, “The early faint Sun paradox: organic shielding of ultraviolet-labile greenhouse gases,” Science, vol. 276, 1997, pp. 1217-1221.

P.J. Thomas, C.F. Chyba, and C.P. McKay, Eds., Comets and the Origins and Evolution of Life, Springer-Verlag, New York, 1997, 296 pp.

C.F. Chyba, S.J. Ostro, B.C. Edwards, “Radar detectability of a subsurface ocean on Europa,” Icarus, vol. 134, 1998, pp. 292-302.

C.F. Chyba, “Energy for microbial life on Europa,” Nature vol. 403, 2000, pp. 381-382; erratum in Nature, vol. 406, 2000, p. 368.

B. Cohen and C.F. Chyba, “Racemization of meteoritic amino acids,” Icarus, vol. 145, 2000, pp. 272-281.

E. Pierazzo and C.F. Chyba, “Amino acid survival in large cometary impacts,” Meteoritics and Planetary Science vol. 32, 2000, pp. 909-918.

C.F. Chyba, R.T. Reynolds and D.P. Whitmire, “Habitability of planets and the origin of life,” in Protostars and Planets IV, Univ. Arizona Press, Tucson, 2000, pp. 1367-1395.

C.F. Chyba and C.B. Phillips, “Possible ecosystems and the search for life on Europa,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA, vol. 98, 2001, pp. 801-804.

C.F. Chyba and K.P. Hand, “Perspectives: Life without photosynthesis,” Science, vol. 292, 2001, pp. 2026-2027.

R.L. Kovach and C.F. Chyba, “Seismic detectability of a subsurface ocean on Europa,” Icarus, vol. 150, 2001, pp. 279-287.

Testimony of Christopher F. Chyba for the Hearing before the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, Committee on Science, House of Representatives, 107th Congress, 1st session, July 12, 2001, Serial No. 107-17.

L. Buck, C.F. Chyba, M. Goulet, A. Smith and P.J. Thomas, “Persistence of Thin Ice Regions in Europa’s Ice Crust,” Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 29, 2002, pp. 12-1-12-4.

C. Cleland and C.F. Chyba, “Defining 'Life',” Origins of Life and Evolution of the Biosphere vol. 32, 2002, pp. 387-393.

E. Pierazzo and C.F. Chyba, “Cometary delivery of biogenic elements to Europa,” Icarus vol. 157, 2002, pp. 120-127.

R. Greeley, C.F. Chyba, J.W. Head, T. McCord, W.B. McKinnon, and R.T. Pappalardo. “Geology of Europa,” in F. Bagenal, T.E. Dowling, W.B. McKinnon, eds., Jupiter: The Planet, Satellites and Magnetosphere (CUP, Cambridge, 2004), pp. 329-362.

C.F. Chyba, “Perspectives: Rethinking Earth’s Early Atmosphere,” Science vol. 308 (13 May 2005), pp. 962-963.

C.F. Chyba and K.P. Hand, “Astrobiology: The Study of the Living Universe,” Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics vol. 43 (2005), pp. 31-74.

Committee on Preventing the Forward Contamination of Mars (National Research Council), Preventing the Forward Contamination of Mars (National Academy Press, Washington, 2006), 153pp.

K.P. Hand, C.F. Chyba, R.W. Carlson, and J. Cooper, “Clathrate Hydrates of Oxidants in the Ice Shell of Europa,” Astrobiology vol. 6. No. 3 (2006), pp. 463-482.

P.J. Thomas, R.D. Hicks, C.F. Chyba, and C.P. McKay, eds. Comets and the Origin and Evolution of Life, 2nd ed. (Springer-Verlag, New York, 2006), 346 pp.

C.F. Chyba and K.P. Hand, “Comets and Prebiotic Organic Molecules on Early Earth,” in P.J. Thomas, R.D. Hicks, C.F. Chyba, and C.P. McKay, eds. Comets and the Origin and Evolution of Life, 2nd ed. (Springer-Verlag, New York, 2006), pp. 177-214.

E. Pierazzo and C.F. Chyba, “Impact Delivery of Prebiotic Organic Matter to Planetary Surfaces,” in P.J. Thomas, R.D. Hicks, C.F. Chyba, and C.P. McKay, eds. Comets and the Origin and Evolution of Life, 2nd ed. (Springer-Verlag, New York, 2006), pp. 143-176.

K.P. Hand and C.F. Chyba, “Empirical Constraints on the Salinity of the Europan Ocean and Implications for a Thin Ice Shell,” Icarus, vol. 189, 2007, pp. 424-438.

K,P. Hand, R.W. Carlson, and C.F. Chyba, “Energy, Chemical Disequilibrium, and Geological Constraints on Europa,” Astrobiology vol. 7, 2007, pp. 1006-1022.

C.F. Chyba and C.B. Phillips, “Europa,” in W.T. Sullivan and J.A. Baross, Eds., Planets and Life: The Emerging Science of Astrobiology, CUP, Cambridge, 2007, pp. 388-423.

C. Cleland and C.F. Chyba, “Does ‘Life’ Have a Definition?” in W.T. Sullivan and J.A. Baross, Eds., Planets and Life: The Emerging Science of Astrobiology, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2007, pp. 119-131.

L.R. Doyle, B. McCowan, S.F. Hanser, C. Chyba, T. Bucci, and J.E. Blue, “Applicability of Information Theory to the Quantification of Responses to Anthropogenic Noise by Southeast Alaskan Humpback Whales,” Entropy, vol. 10, 2008, pp. 33-46.

EDUCATION

1985 – 1991
CORNELL UNIVERSITY, ITHACA, NY
Ph.D., Astronomy and Space Sciences

1982 – 1985
CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY, CAMBRIDGE, ENGLAND
Marshall Scholar; B.A. Mathematics; Part III Mathematics Tripos;
M.Phil History and Philosophy of Science
General relativity and quantum field theory; M.Phil. thesis on quantum measurement problem

1977 – 1982
SWARTHMORE COLLEGE, SWARTHMORE, PA
B.A. honors, physics
Minors in mathematics and philosophy, senior thesis in political science

A complete curriculm vitae, with a full list of publications, talks, committees, positions held, and references is available upon request.