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 at MIT, and was John Burchard Professor of Humanities before becoming Professor of the Practice of the Humanities 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. 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 advance a new generation of women leaders in Southeast Asia.