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Tucson Chapter of Brandeis National Committee to Welcome Four Authors to Annual Book & Author Day & Luncheon

Clockwise (from top left to bottom right): Chris Impey, Rebecca Senf, Luis Alberto Urrea, Heather Webb

The search for life beyond Earth was once the realm of science fiction.

Now, with the discovery of thousands of exoplanets — planets that orbit stars beyond our solar system — it is almost certain that life exists on other worlds, says Chris Impey, University Distinguished Professor of Astronomy at the University of Arizona.

“We’re not looking for little green men or civilizations,” Impey says. “We’re looking for microbial life, because 90 percent of the history of life on Earth, you couldn’t see it without a microscope.”

Since Earth is a microbial planet and has been for most of its history, Impey says, “that’s logically the most abundant life elsewhere.”

Impey, whose latest book is “Worlds Without End: Exoplanets, Habitability, and the Future of Humanity,” is one of four authors who will take part in the two-day Sheila Rothenberg Book & Author Event in March, hosted by the Tucson Chapter of Brandeis National Committee.

The first exoplanets were discovered in the 1990s. With potentially tens of billions of Earth-like planets in the galaxy, “any of which could be a biological experiment, it’d be kind of amazing if we were alone,” Impey says.

While microbes are the most likely form of life beyond Earth, we can only begin to imagine what might have evolved on other planets after many billions of years, he says.

“We know in four billion years, we went from microbes to us,” he says.

And, since humans continue consuming the materials that make Earth habitable at an alarming rate, “Worlds Without End” investigates possible solutions in space. One benefit of continued space exploration, Impey says, might be to teach us new ways to conserve resources here on Earth.

Impey has won 11 teaching awards and his research has been supported by $20 million in NASA and National Science Foundation grants. He is the author of nine popular science books, 100 popular articles on cosmology, astrobiology, and education, two textbooks, and a novel in addition to more than 220 refereed publications on observational cosmology, galaxies, and quasars.

The Book & Author Day & Luncheon will be held on Thursday, March 7 at Skyline Country Club and will include author presentations moderated by Tom McNamara, host of Arizona Public Media’s “Arizona Illustrated.” A March 6 dinner with the authors will be held at Tucson Country Club.

The authors to be highlighted at this year’s event include Rebecca Senf, chief curator at the UArizona Center for Creative Photography; critically acclaimed Mexican-American writer Luis Alberto Urrea; and award-winning historical fiction author Heather Webb.

Senf grew up in Tucson and received her B.A. at UArizona, where she studied the history of photography. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. at Boston University, writing her doctoral dissertation on Ansel Adams, one of America’s most celebrated photographers. This enduring interest led to her most recent book, “Making a Photographer: The Early Work of Ansel Adams.”

Urrea is the author of 19 books including novels, poetry, and nonfiction. A 2005 Pulitzer Prize finalist for nonfiction and a Guggenheim fellow, Urrea uses his dual-cultural experience to explore themes of love, loss, and triumph. His latest novel, “Good Night, Irene,” is inspired by his mother’s experiences as a Red Cross volunteer on the front lines during World War II.

Webb is a USA Today bestselling author of historical fiction, including “Strangers in the Night: A Novel of Frank Sinatra & Ava Gardner” and “Rodin’s Lover.” Her new novel, “Queens of London,” set in 1925, is based on the exploits of an all-female crime syndicate led by the notorious Diamond Annie. Webb is also an adjunct for the MFA in Creative Writing program at Drexel University.

The cost of the lunch program is $100. Options that include seating with an author and autographed books are available for an additional fee. For those who prefer not to participate in person, a Zoom option is $50. The dinner program is $125.

All proceeds from the Book & Author Event benefit the “Sustaining the Mind” research program at Brandeis University that seeks the causes and cures of neurodegenerative diseases such as ALS, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.

For more information or to request an invitation, email