Mario Livio was born in Romania, but grew up in Israel, where he received his B.Sc. in physics and mathematics, M.Sc. in theoretical particle physics, and Ph.D. in theoretical astrophysics. He was a professor of physics at the Technion–Israel Institute of Technology from 1981 to 1991, a period during which he was selected six times as “Outstanding Lecturer.” Since 1991, Livio has been an astrophysicist at the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI) in Baltimore, Maryland. This is the institute that conducts the scientific program of the Hubble Space Telescope and will conduct the scientific program of the James Webb Space Telescope, to be launched in 2018. At STScI, Livio served, among other things, as the head of the archive, head of the science division, and head of the division for education and public outreach.
Livio’s professional interests are extremely broad. He has done fundamental research in topics ranging from extrasolar planets and the emergence of intelligent life in the universe, to supernova explosions and cosmology. Livio has published more than 400 scientific publications, and edited more than a dozen proceedings of international scientific meetings. He has also written extensively, and continues to write, for the general public. He has published four popular science books which have won awards such as the 2003 “Peano Prize” and the 2004 “International Pythagoras Prize”.
In addition to numerous professional talks, Livio lectures frequently to the public. Most recently, he gave a whole-day seminar on Hubble’s scientific achievements at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, on March 24, 2012, was a “Nifty Fifty” lecturer as part of the 2012 Science and Engineering Festival, and gave a talk at the United Nations in New York on April 12, 2012. Livio is the recipient of numerous honors including the “Iben Distinguished Lecturer” in 2008, the “Carnegie Centenary Professor” in 2003, the “Danz Distinguished Lecturer” in 2006, and the “AURA Award for Research in Astronomy” in 2005. He was elected Fellow of the American Association for Advancement of Science in 2009. The AAAS cited Livio for his “distinguished contributions to astrophysics through research on stars and galaxies and through communicating and interpreting science and mathematics to the public.”
In addition to his scientific interests, Livio is a self-confessed “art fanatic,” who owns many hundreds of books on art, and who tries to fuse science and art in his writing and lectures.
Livio lives in Baltimore, MD, with his wife Sofie, a microbiologist. They have three children: Sharon, Oren, and Maya.