Jim Sweitzer brings over three decades of experience at the forefront of science communications to his role as principal of SCC.
Educated at the University of Notre Dame (B.S. Physics, 1973) and the University of Chicago (Ph.D. Astrophysics, 1978), he began his career at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago where he served as Associate Director. In 1991, he joined the Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica, based at the University of Chicago. He made two trips to the South Pole as the Center’s Assistant Director to oversee the construction of observatories in that outer space-like environment.
In 1996, he brought his expertise to the American Museum of Natural History’s Rose Center for Earth and Space Science in New York City. As Director of Special Projects, he was responsible for the development and implementation of scientific content for the new facility, as well as acting as executive producer for the Hayden Planetarium’s critically acclaimed inaugural space show, Passport to the Universe.
Returning to his hometown of Chicago in 2002, Jim served as director of De Paul University’s Space Science Center, acting as a liaison between NASA’s Space Science missions and schools in a seven-state Midwestern region.
In 2004, he launched his own science communications business, SCC.
Jim is a member of the Climate Reality Project, trained by former Vice President Al Gore in 2007 and 2009. He was also selected to serve as Training Mentor to new recruits to the Project.
In April 2012, Jim presented "A Ray of Hope: An Astronomers View of Climate Change" for a TEDx symposium sponsored by DePaul University Chicago.
Jim is an active member of a group of astrophysicists and fellow members of the International Astronomical Union working on a decade-long effort to promote the teaching of astronomy in the developing world.
Jim teaches astronomy and astrobiology at Columbia College Chicago. He recently received a CITE award from the college’s Center for Innovation and Teaching Excellence in recognition for “Data Ship Columbia” utilizing the World Wide Telescope to tell digital science stories.
Additionally, Jim is a member of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Astronomical Society, the American Geophysical Union, the International Planetarium Society, and the Great Lakes Planetarium Association, with whom he is a fellow.
The Mid-Atlantic, East Coast and Great Lakes Planetarium Associations honored him with the Armand Spitz/Margaret Noble Award for planetarium leadership in 2007. He was a featured speaker at the annual Science Visualization Film Festival held in Tokyo in 2010. He is currently a member of the International Planetarium Society’s Vision 2020 task force.