Simon Peter “Pete” Worden, (Brig. Gen., USAF, Ret., PhD) is the Chairman of the
Breakthrough Prize Foundation and Executive Director of the foundation’s
‘Breakthrough Initiatives’. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics and
Astronomy from the University of Michigan and a PhD in Astronomy for the University of
Arizona. Prior to joining the Breakthrough Prize Foundation, Dr. Worden was Director of
NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field, California, USA until his retirement on
March 31, 2015. He has held several positions in the United States Air Force and was
research professor of astronomy at the University of Arizona, Tucson, USA. He is a
recognized expert on space and science issues – both civil and military, and has been a
leader in building partnerships between governments and the private sector
Dr. Worden has authored or co-authored more than 150 scientific papers in
astrophysics space sciences, and strategic studies. He served as a scientific co-
investigator for three NASA space science missions – most recently the Interface
Region Imaging Spectrograph launched in 2013 to study the Sun. He received the
NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal for the 1994 Clementine Mission to the moon. Dr.
Worden was named the 2009 Federal Laboratory Consortium Laboratory Director of the
Year and is the recipient of the 2010 Arthur C. Clarke Innovator’s Award.
On July 20, 2015 at the Royal Society in London, UK, Yuri Milner and Stephen Hawking
launched the Breakthrough Initiatives. At the press conference Pete Worden was
introduced as the Chairman for the Breakthrough Prize Foundation. In this capacity he
leads the Breakthrough Initiatives.