Brendan Mullan

Brendan Mullan

Brendan Mullan’s love of astronomy began when he got his first glimpse of outer space while visiting a planetarium as a young boy. Today, his career as an astrobiologist and science educator is fueled by a passion to communicate information and inspire future generations of scientists and explorers.


4 - 12+


Earth Science, Astronomy

Mysteries of the Unseen World (logo height 65 pix)

Brendan Mullan is a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and recent Ph.D. graduate of Penn State University’s Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics. In 2012, he won NASA’s FameLab astrobiology competition, which honors scientists who excel in communicating their work and scientific content to a variety of audiences.

Having been raised by a biologist and a chemist, Mullan was never intimidated by science, but he recognizes that many people are. He developed a passion for learning at a very young age, and he hopes to share that passion with the public and future generations of scientists and explorers. Mullan enjoys the challenge of finding innovative ways to communicate scientific information in a relevant, accessible, and engaging way for all audiences, novice and expert alike.

As an astronomer, Mullan studies space beyond Earth’s atmosphere. His area of specialization is astrobiology, which explores the origin, evolution, and distribution of life both on Earth and in space. Astrobiology is a complex subject and requires him to have knowledge of multiple scientific disciplines, including astronomy, biology, chemistry, physics, geology, engineering, and geography. Astrobiology research seeks answers to questions such as whether or not life exists beyond Earth, what limits life from originating and/or evolving, and how extraterrestrial life could be detected. Recent astrobiology research has focused on finding extraterrestrial environments with conditions likely to harbor life. Resulting from a number of international collaborations, several research missions are currently underway, including the Cassini probe’s study of Saturn and its moons, and the Phoenix Mars Lander, Mars Science Laboratory, and ExoMars.

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Angela M. Cowan, Education Specialist and Curriculum Designer
Julie Brown, National Geographic Society
Jeannie Evers, Emdash Editing, Emdash Editing
Elaine Larson, National Geographic Society
Last Updated

October 19, 2023

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