Manasvi Lingam

Assistant Professor | Aerospace, Physics and Space Sciences

Contact Information

Personal Overview

After completing my undergraduate degree at the Indian Institute of Technology (Bombay), I moved to The University of Texas at Austin, where I obtained my Ph.D. in Physics. Afterwards, I undertook postdoctoral stints at Princeton University, Harvard University and the Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian. I am currently an Assistant Professor of Astrobiology in the Department of Aerospace, Physics and Space Sciences at the Florida Institute of Technology.


My research interests are situated primarily within the transdisciplinary area of astrobiology. As a theorist, my research is mostly oriented towards modeling (through pen-and-paper calculations and numerical simulations) the following areas:

1. Properties of putative organisms (e.g., methanogens) and/or biospheres that could exist on habitable worlds (e.g., Mars, Enceladus) using available constraints on the fluxes of nutrients and energy.

2. Effect of stellar processes in regulating planetary habitability: (super)flares, coronal mass ejections, energetic particles, winds, and electromagnetic radiation.

3. Impact of high-energy astrophysical phenomena such as active galactic nuclei and tidal disruption events on habitability across galactic scales.

4. Planetary factors that modulate habitability: distribution of landmasses and oceans, mean temperature, magnetic fields, and tidal forces (from the star or moons).

5. Identifying novel biosignatures and technosignatures (e.g., chlorofluorocarbons) and assessing their detectability.

6. Missions to targets of interest in planetary science and astrobiology: Venus, Planet 9, interstellar objects, and nomadic planets.

7. Propellant-free propulsion systems like light sails and electric sails.


As my Ph.D. and initial postdoctoral research was in plasma physics, I continue to work sporadically in this field. Some of the areas that I have investigated over the past few years include Hamiltonian and Lagrangian formulations for plasma models, fluid models that accurately encapsulate collisional effects, generation of small- and large-scale magnetic fields, magnetic turbulence (e.g., in the solar wind), and fast magnetic reconnection which is believed to drive explosive phenomena such as stellar/solar flares.

Educational Background

Ph.D. in Physics, The University of Texas at Austin (2010-15)


B. Tech in Engineering Physics, Indian Institute of Technology - Bombay (2005-09)

Professional Experience

Assistant Professor of Astrobiology, Department of Aerospace, Physics and Space Sciences, Florida Institute of Technology (2019-present)


Research Fellow, Department of Physics, The University of Texas at Austin (2021-present)


Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute for Theory and Computation, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian (2017-19)


Postdoctoral Fellow, John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University (2016-17)


Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University (2015-16)

Current Courses

PHY 2002H  - Physics 2 (Honors)

PHY 5017 - Electromagnetic Theory 1

PHY 5015 - Analytical Mechanics 1

PHY 2002 - Physics 2

SPS 4039 - Astrobiology

SPS 4201 - Astrobiology 2

SPS 5088 - Graduate Astrobiology

SPS 4035 - Comparative Planetology

SPS 4045 - Physics and Chemistry of Planet Formation

Selected Publications


Life in the Cosmos: From Biosignatures to Technosignatures

M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Harvard University Press (2021)
[the first quantitative & graduate-level textbook on astrobiology]

Selected papers (out of 90+ in total)

The Possible Role of Body Temperature in Modulating Brain and Body Sizes in Hominin Evolution
M. Lingam, Front. Psychol., 12, 774683 (2022)

Tidal modulations and the habitability of exoplanetary systems
M. Lingam, S. Pryor & I. Ginsburg, Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 510, 4837 (2022)

Interstellar Now! Missions to Explore Nearby Interstellar Objects
A. M. Hein, T. M. Eubanks, M. Lingam, A. Hibberd, D. Fries, J. Schneider, P. Kervella, R. Kennedy, N. Perakis & B. Dachwald, Adv. Space. Res., 69, 402 (2022)

Excitation Properties of Photopigments and Their Possible Dependence on the Host Star
M. Lingam, A. Balbi & S. M. Mahajan, Astrophys. J. Lett., 921, L41 (2021)

A brief history of the term ‘habitable zone’ in the 19th century
M. Lingam, Int. J. Astrobiol., 20, 332 (2021)

Theoretical Constraints Imposed by Gradient Detection and Dispersal on Microbial Size in Astrobiological Environments
M. Lingam, Astrobiology, 21, 813 (2021)

A Precursor Balloon Mission for Venusian Astrobiology
A. M. Hein, M. Lingam, T. M. Eubanks, A. Hibberd, D. Fries & W. P. Blase, Astrophys. J. Lett., 903, L36 (2020)

Potential for Liquid Water Biochemistry Deep under the Surfaces of the Moon, Mars, and beyond
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astrophys. J. Lett., 901, L11 (2020)

Propulsion of Spacecraft to Relativistic Speeds Using Natural Astrophysical Sources
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astrophys. J., 894, 36 (2020)

Implications of Abiotic Oxygen Buildup for Earth-like Complex Life
M. Lingam, Astron. J., 159, 144 (2020)

Constraints on Aquatic Photosynthesis for Terrestrial Planets around Other Stars
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astrophys. J. Lett., 889, L15 (2020)

Electric sails are potentially more effective than light sails near most stars
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Acta Astronaut., 168, 146 (2020)

Brown Dwarf Atmospheres as the Potentially Most Detectable and Abundant Sites for Life
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astrophys. J., 883, 143 (2019)


Active Galactic Nuclei: Boon or Bane for Biota?
M. Lingam, I. Ginsburg & S. Bialy, Astrophys. J., 877, 62 (2019)


Colloquium: Physical constraints for the evolution of life on exoplanets
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Rev. Mod. Phys., 91, 021002 (2019)


Revisiting the Biological Ramifications of Variations in Earth's Magnetic Field
M. Lingam, Astrophys. J. Lett., 874, L28 (2019)


Relative Likelihood of Success in the Searches for Primitive versus Intelligent Extraterrestrial Life
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astrobiology, 19, 28 (2019)


Galactic Panspermia
I. Ginsburg, M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astrophys. J. Lett., 868, L12 (2018)


Is Extraterrestrial Life Suppressed on Subsurface Ocean Worlds due to the Paucity of Bioessential Elements?
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astron. J., 156, 151 (2018)


The Propitious Role of Solar Energetic Particles in the Origin of Life
M. Lingam, C. Dong, X. Fang, B. M. Jakosky & A. Loeb, Astrophys. J., 853, 10 (2018)


Black hole Brownian motion in a rotating galaxy
M. Lingam, Mon. Not. R. Astron. Soc., 473, 1719 (2018)


Risks for Life on Habitable Planets from Superflares of Their Host Stars
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Astrophys. J., 848, 41 (2017)


Enhanced interplanetary panspermia in the TRAPPIST-1 system
M. Lingam & A. Loeb, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 114, 6689 (2017)


Nonlinear resistivity for magnetohydrodynamical models
M. Lingam, E. Hirvijoki, D. Pfefferle, L. Comisso & A. Bhattacharjee, Phys. Plasmas, 24, 042120 (2017)


Is Proxima Centauri b Habitable? A Study of Atmospheric Loss
C. Dong, M. Lingam, Y. Ma & O. Cohen, Astrophys. J. Lett., 837, L26 (2017)


General theory of the plasmoid instability
L. Comisso, M. Lingam, Y.-M. Huang & A. Bhattacharjee, Phys. Plasmas, 23, 100702 (2016)


Concomitant Hamiltonian and topological structures of extended magnetohydrodynamics
M. Lingam, G. Miloshevich & P. J. Morrison, Phys. Lett. A., 380, 2400 (2016)

Recognition & Awards

Professional memberships and recognition:

1. Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (2022-present)

2. Member of the European Astronomical Society (2022-present)

3. Nexus for Exoplanet System Science (NExSS), NASA (2021-present)



Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society

ITC Fellowship, Institute for Theory and Computation, Center for Astrophysics | Harvard & Smithsonian

Dean's Excellence Fellowship, Department of Physics, The University of Texas at Austin


Research Areas:


Habitability of planets and moons in the Solar system and beyond


Biosignatures and Technosignatures


Propulsion systems and mission designs to probe astrobiological targets


Hamiltonian and Lagrangian methods for plasmas


Plasma astrophysics - magnetic reconnection, dynamos, and turbulence


Supermassive black holes





1 PhD and 2 MS students graduated.

Supervised the Senior Design projects of several undergraduate students.

On the committee of 11 graduate students.


Academic Service:

On the Editorial Board of Life (IF: 3.25) and edited a Special Issue entitled Frontiers of Astrobiology

Reviewer for 35 journals (e.g., Nature Communications, PNAS, Science Advances), NASA, NSF, Cambridge University Press, etc.

Scientific Committee member of The First Penn State SETI Symposium, Pennsylvania State University (June 2022)


University and Departmental Service:

Faculty Senate (2022-present)

PSS Strategic Planning Committee (2021-present)


Invited Talks and Conference Abstracts:

18 invited talks in US and international institutions

40+ conference posters and talks

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