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 one the first people to receive dual faculty appointments in science and in the humanities and was John Burchard Professor of Humanities before becoming an Adjunct Professor to allow more time for his writing.
Lightman is the author of five novels, two collections of essays, a book-length narrative poem, and several books on science. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Granta, 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), named one of the best books of 2015 by the Washington Post, and The Accidental Universe (2016), named by Brainpickings as one of the best books of 2016.
He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has won numerous other awards and is the recipient of 5 honorary degrees. Lightman is also the founding director of the Harpswell Foundation, which works to empower a new generation of women leaders in Cambodia.