2023 Alumni Awards Profiles

Kartik Sheth ’93

Kartik Sheth ’93

Reunion: 30th
Residence: Washington D.C.
Grinnell major: Physics
Other degrees: Master of Science in physics from University of Minnesota (1995); Master of Science and Ph.D. in astrophysics from University of Maryland (1997, 2001)
Profession: Astrophysicist

3 ways Kartik embodies Grinnell College’s mission of lifetime learning and service

  1. As a program scientist at NASA’s headquarters, Kartik leads policy development for science and technology programs in astrophysics and earth science. He is recognized as a world expert in the study of barred spiral galaxies.
  2. In 2021, Sheth was appointed to the White House’s Executive Office of President as the assistant director for research infrastructures and science equity. He led development of the U.S. Strategic Plan for Advanced Manufacturing 2022-2026 focusing on climate, economy, and equity.
  3. He was previously the director for the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory where he founded the National Astronomy Consortium, a unique partnership of 17 HBCUs, 7 majority institutions, and 3 science centers dedicated to increasing inclusion and diversity in science. In 2022, he was awarded NASA’s Diversity, Inclusion & Equity Medal for his work leading the Anti-Racism Action group and other activities at the agency.

Something you probably didn’t know about Kartik

Kartik’s has published more than 175 peer-reviewed academic articles. His work has been cited more than 16,300 times.  

Kartik Sheth ’93 poses in front of several satellite dishes.

Bonus Kartik Fun Facts

  • Kartik served on the Alumni Council from 2001-2007. He also started the Grinnell-in-LA Regional Network and has been active in the Washington D.C. regional community.
  • In a mentorship capacity, Kartik encourages scientists from underrepresented backgrounds. He also has returned to Grinnell College to meet with physics students to talk about his life journey and organized get-togethers for Grinnellians at the annual American Astronomical Society meetings. 
  • He was a Science Without Borders Special Visiting Researcher in Brazil from 2017-2019 where he helped build the astronomy program at the UFRJ/Valongo Observatory. 

A quote about Kartik

“Talking to Kartik one immediately notices his humility, humor, and grace, and might be tempted to overlook he's a world expert on spiral galaxies and galactic discs and an accomplished executive leader in diversity, equity and inclusion. Kartik embodies that life-long Grinnellian goal of balancing the rigor of form (conviviality) with function (scientific expertise). 

Andrés Chang ’05

Read more 2023 Alumni Award Recipient profiles.