Sarah Rugheimer speaking at lectern
Jan 29, 2020

FVCC Alumna Dr. Sarah Rugheimer Selected as TED Fellow

Astrophysicist Dr. Sarah Rugheimer, an alumna of Flathead Valley Community College, has been selected as a TED Fellow. She will present her work at TED2020 in Vancouver, British Columbia in April.

Flathead Valley Community College alumna and astrophysicist Dr. Sarah Rugheimer has been selected as a TED Fellow, joining a class of 20 change-makers from around the world to deliver a TED talk in April in Vancouver, British Columbia. Rugheimer was selected for the fellowship based on her work to develop a model for detecting signs of life in an exoplanet atmosphere.

Rugheimer grew up in Montana and attended FVCC from 2002-2003. She delivered the spring commencement address at FVCC in 2018.

“I am extremely excited to join this cohort of TED fellows,” Rugheimer said. “TED has long been for me a source of inspiration for both my personal and professional life. Science communication is something I care deeply about, and I look forward to being able to share my work on how to detect life on other planets with a global audience in April.”

Rugheimer’s research interests are modeling the atmospheres of planets orbiting other stars. Her work is focused on how to distinguish biology from geology on distant planets. With current telescopes, astronomers are now finding for the first time planets that are Earth-sized and habitable.

Rugheimer is currently a Glasstone Research Fellow at the University of Oxford and a Hugh Price Fellow at Jesus College, Oxford. She co-hosts a podcast with fellow exoplanet astronomer Dr. Sarah Ballard called “Self-care with Drs. Sarah” about navigating life’s challenges by prioritizing one’s mental and physical well-being first.

Founded in 2009, the TED Fellows program has 492 fellows from 99 countries. In its 11-year history, the TED Fellows program has created a far-reaching network made up of scientists, doctors, activists, artists, entrepreneurs, inventors, journalists and more.

TED Fellows Director Shoham Arad said, “TED Fellows are an incredibly diverse group, but they all have at least one thing in common: they are tackling extremely important problems in a unique and brilliant way. This year’s class is no exception. We are so excited to support them and their important work and can’t wait for them to share their ideas at TED this year.”

For more information about the program, visit