Alan Lightman is a physicist, novelist, and essayist. He was educated at Princeton University and at the California Institute of Technology, where he received a Ph.D. in theoretical physics. Before coming to MIT, he was on the faculty of Harvard University. At MIT, Lightman was the first person to receive dual faculty appointments in science and in the humanities, and was John Burchard Professor of Humanities before becoming Professor of the Practice of the Humanities to allow more time for his writing. Lightman’s writing has appeared in The Atlantic,Granta, Harper's, Nautilus, the New Yorker, and the New York Review of Books, among other publications. His novel Einstein’s Dreams was an international bestseller and has been translated into thirty languages. His novel The Diagnosis was a finalist for the 2000 National Book Award in fiction. His most recent books are Screening Room: A Memoir of the South (2015), The Accidental Universe (2016), Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine (2018), In Praise of Wasting Time (2018), Three Flames (2019), Probable Impossibilities (2021), and The Transcendent Brain (2023). He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and has six honorary degrees. Lightman is also the founder of the nonprofit Harpswell, which works to advance a new generation of women leaders in Southeast Asia.