Brief Biography

Karin Öberg’s academic passion is the connection between planet formation, astrochemistry and origins of life. Her research aims to uncover how chemistry and physics interact during star and planet formation to shape the bulk and organic compositions of nascent planets. A major focus is the origins of chemical complexity in space and how organic material is distributed in planet-forming disks around young stars. Her research group approaches this research question through laboratory experiments, aimed at simulating the chemistry and physics of interstellar grain mantles, radio and infrared observations (often at high spatial resolution), and astrochemical theory.

Dr. Öberg left Sweden for Caltech in 2001, where she matriculated with a B.Sc. in chemistry in 2005. Four years later she obtained a Ph.D. in astronomy, with a thesis focused on laboratory astrochemistry. In 2009 she first moved to the Harvard-Smithsonian CfA with a Hubble fellowship, focusing on millimeter observations of protoplanetary disks, and left in 2012 to join the University of Virginia chemistry department. In 2013 she returned to Harvard as an assistant professor in astronomy and was promoted and named the Thomas D. Cabot Associate Professor in Astronomy in 2016. At the CfA she is affiliated with R&G, SSP and ITC. Dr. Öberg’s research in astrochemistry has been recognized with a Sloan fellowship, a Packard fellowship and the Newton Lacy Pierce Award.


Karin I. Öberg
Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

60 Garden St, MS 16

Cambridge, MA 02138

Visiting address:

Office: P-343 (Perkins)

Tel. +1-617-496-9062

e-mail: koberg [at]


Thomas D. Cabot Associate Professor of Astronomy

Harvard University, July 2016 –

Assistant Professor of Astronomy

Harvard University, July 2013 – June 2016

Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Astronomy

University of Virginia, August 2012 – June 2013

Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow

Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, October 2009 – August 2012


B.Sc. Chemistry (cum laude), California Institute of Technology, 2005

Ph.D. Astronomy (cum laude), Leiden University, 16 September 2009
Advisors: Ewine F. van Dishoeck and Harold Linnartz


Newton Lacy Pierce Award (2016)

Packard Fellow (2014)

Simons Collaboration of the Origins of Life (SCOL) Investigator (2014)

Alfred P. Sloan Fellow in Physics (2014)

Christian Huygens Science Award Honorable Mention (2013)

Paul Hertelendy (PH) Lecturer, Harvard-Smithsonian CfA (2012)

The C.J. Kokprijs for the best Ph.D. thesis, awarded by the Leiden University faculty (2010)

Hubble postdoctoral fellowship (2009)

Rodman W. Paul's History Prize (2005)

Carnation Merit Award recipient (2004)

Represented Sweden in the International Chemistry Olympiad in Mumbai (2001)

Karin Ingegerd Öberg

Recent Invited Colloquia and Seminars

University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, Feb 24, 2017

Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, Jan 27, 2017

JPL Astrophysics Colloquium , Pasadena, CA, June 9, 2016

Hans E. Suess Memorial Lecture UCSD, San Diego, CA, May 25, 2016

Department of Physics and Astronomy at Rutgers Colloquium April 13, 2016

University of Victoria colloquia, Victoria, Canada, Jan 20 2016

NRC Herzberg and UBC colloquia, British Colombia, Canada, Jan 18-19 2016

UCLA Astronomy colloquium, CA, Nov 2 2015

Boston University Astronomy seminar, Boston, Nov 23, 2015

NRAO-Socorro colloquium, Oct 30 2015.

Munich Joint Astronomy Colloquium Sept 30 2015

Harvard College PRISE 10th Anniversary Distinguished Speaker lecture, July 14 2015

University of Arizona astronomy colloquium, Tucson, AZ, Nov 20, 2014

CSH colloquium, University of Bern, Switzerland, Nov 11, 2014

Heidelberg joint Astronomy Colloquium, Heidelberg, Germany, June 25, 2014

Caltech Astronomy colloquium Pasadena, CA, May 28, 2014

University of Toronto colloquium Toronto, Canada, April 25, 2014

RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) astronomy colloquium Rochester, NY, April 21, 2014

Källén Seminar Lund University, Sweden, 24 Feb. 2014

Recent Invited Conference Talks

Exoplanets I conference in Davos, Switzerland, from 3-8 July 2016

Chemistry Conference for Young Scientists (ChemCYS2016) (plenary lecture), Royal Flemish Chemical Society, March 16-18, Belgium.

From interstellar ices to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons : A symposium to honor Lou Allamandolas contributions to the molecular Universe, Annapolis, Maryland, Sept. 13-17, 2015.

XXIX IAU General Assembly Focus Meeting 6 : ”Highlights in the exploration of Small Worlds”, Honolulu, Hawaii, August 11-13, 2015

XXIX IAU General Assembly Focus Meeting 15 : ”Search for water and life’s building blocks in the universe”, Honolulu, Hawaii, August 3-5, 2015

XXIX IAU General Assembly Focus Meeting 12 : ”Bridging Laboratory Astrophysics and Astronomy”, Honolulu, Hawaii, August 3-5, 2015

Joint MPE/MPIA workshop on Chemical diagnostics of star and planet formation with Cycle 3 ALMA”, Munich, Germany January 13 - 15, 2015

IAUS 314: Young Stars and Planets near the Sun, Atlanta, GA, May 11-15, 2015

Second Workshop on Experimental Laboratory Astrophysics, Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii, February 23-26, 2015

Revolution in Astronomy with ALMA -The 3rd Year, Tokyo, Japan, Dec 8-11, 2014

14th International Workshop on Dynamics, Interactions and Electronic Transitions at Surfaces (DIET 14), Monterey Bay, CA, Oct 13-17, 2014

Circumstellar disks and planet formation, Ann Arbor, MI, Oct 12-14

The disk in relation to the formation  of planets and their protoatmospheres, Beijing, China, Aug 25-29, 2014

Submillimeter Array: First decade of discovery, Cambridge, MA, June 8-10, 2014

ACS Astrochemistry Symposium ‘Chemistry in the Interstellar Medium - New Frontiers in Laboratory, Theory and Observations’, Dallas, TX, March 16-20 2014

Gordon Conference on the Origins of Life, Galveston, TX, Jan 12-17 2014

Post docs, Graduate and Undergraduate Students

Graduate students:

Jamila Pegues, Ph.D. student 2016 -

Ellen Price, Ph.D. student 2015 -

Jennifer Bergner, Ph.D. student 2014 -

Jane Huang, Ph.D. student 2014 -

Dr. Ana-Maria Piso, Ph.D. student 2014 - 2016 (post doc at UCSD from Sep 2016)

Ryan Loomis, Ph.D. student 2013 -

Dawn Graninger, Ph.D. student 2011 -

Post docs:

Dr. Ilse Cleeves, Hubble, ITC and SMA fellow, 2015-2019

Dr. Edith Fayolle, Rubicon fellow 2013-2015, Postdoctoral fellow 2015-2017 (postdoctoral fellow at JPL 2017-)

Dr. Viviana Guzman, 2014-2016 (Postdoctoral fellow at JAO 2016-)

Supervised undergraduate research:

Charles Law (Harvard), senior thesis 2016-2017

Lauren Chambers (Yale), Banneker fellow and senior thesis 2016

Zoe Peeler (Wellesley), Origins of Life fellow 2016

Jamila Pegues (Princeton), Banneker fellow 2015, Senior thesis 2015-2016 (Ph.D. student Harvard 2016-)

William Waalkes (U. Michigan), REU 2015 (Ph.D. student U. Colorado, Boulder 2016-)

Aida Behmard (Yale/Princeton), Origins of Life fellow 2015, 2016

Corey Husic (Harvard), semester research 2015

Rui Xu (Peking University) semester research 2014 - 2015 (Ph.D. student at Princeton 2015-)

Olivia Wilkins (Dickinson College), summer internship 2014 (Fulbright scholar 2015-2016, Ph.D. student Caltech 2016-)

Chris Merchantz (Harvard), semester research, and senior thesis 2014 - 2016 (Ph.D. student U. Mich. 2016-)

Tom Leith (Harvard), semester research 2014

Jodi Balfe (Harvard), Junior and Senior Theses 2013 - 2015

University of Virginia:

Trish Lauck, M.Sc. thesis 2012 - 2014

Katie Schulenberger, (Wellesley College) summer internship 2013 (Ph.D. student at MIT 2014-)

JB Reiter, summer internship 2013

Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory:

Mavis Boamah (Wellesley College), summer internship 2012 (Ph.D. student Northwestern University 2014-)

Brian Svoboda, REU, 2010 (Ph.D. student at the University of Arizona 2012-)

Leiden University:

Edith Fayolle, Ph.D. thesis (co-promotor), 2009 - 2013  (now Rubicon post doctoral fellow at Harvard)


Astro 203: The interstellar medium and star formation (Harvard spring 2015, 2017)

Astro 305: a two week module on prebiotic chemistry during planet formation (Harvard fall 2016)

Astro 16: Stellar and planetary astronomy (Harvard spring 2016)

Astro 215: a two week module on Astrochemistry (Harvard fall 2015)

Astro/Chem 5559: Introduction to Astrochemistry (U.Va. spring 2013)

Selected Service

NRAO User’s Committee member (2012 - 2018)

ALMA Science Advisory Committee (ASAC) member 2015-2018

Jansky postdoctoral selection committee 2014-2016

ITC postdoctoral selection committee 2014-2016

ALMA North American Science Advisory Committee (ANASAC) member (Chair) 2013-2015 (2015-)

ALMA Review Panel (ARP) member (2012 - 2016)

Submillimeter Array Time Allocation Committee (2013 - 2015)

Thesis advisory committee (Chair) for 5(3) Ph.D. students and pre docs at Harvard and SAO

Referee for Nature, Science, Science Advances, ApJ, A&A, MNRAS, PASJ, PRL, Chemical Reviews, PCCP, Chemical Physics Letters, and J. Phys. Chem.’

SOC member for: IAU meeting on hydride molecules, Paris, France, 15-18 Dec 2016; Lorentz workshop: Ice Age - the era of JWST, Leiden, Netherlands, Oct. 4-7, 2016; Exoplanets and Disks: bridging compositions and communities, towards the future, STScI, September 11-14 2016; Protoplanetary DISCussions, Edinburgh, UK, 7-11 March 2016; From clouds to protoplanetary disks: the astrochemical link, Berlin, 2015; Goldschmidt session ’Protoplanetary disks in the age of ALMA: physics and chemistry of dust and volatiles in the Solar Nebula and its analogues’, Prague, 2015; AAS ’VLA2020’, Seattle, 2015; Characterizing Planetary Systems across the HR Diagram, Cambridge, UK, 2014; Transformational Science with ALMA: the Formation and Evolution of Planetary Systems 2013; Convener of Goldschmidt session:  Chemistry in protoplanetary disks: the ALMA revolution