Faculty Footnotes: Konstantin Batygin

By day, Konstantin Batygin (MS ’10, PhD ’12), assistant professor of planetary science, is developing a theoretical understanding of how planetary orbits evolve—from start to finish—by studying the dynamical structure of our own planetary system. By night, he’s the lead singer of a band called The Seventh Season. Earlier this year, Batygin’s impressive research reputation—he had published 21 first-author papers by the age of 28—coupled with his musical interests earned him a spot on the Forbes “30 Under 30” list in the science category, where he’s described as “the next physics rock star.” We asked Batygin for a few other facts that probably don’t appear on his résumé:

He grew up surrounded by scientists in Japan, where his dad was a physicist at a research institution called RIKEN.
“At the time, I had grown to believe that becoming a scientist is simply something that you do when you grow up. However, this had nothing to do with my own career choice as I am now keenly aware that other jobs do exist—for example, one can also become a musician!”

His first trip to Disneyland was with a famous astrophysicist.
“When I was about 10 years old, I had a good friend named Dmitry. I knew Dmitry’s dad studied something related to black holes, but at the time the coolest thing about Dmitry’s dad was that he took us to Disneyland in Tokyo, and we got to go on all the rides, including Space Mountain. My mind was totally blown when I finally realized in grad school that Dmitry’s dad, Nikolai Shakura, was a world-famous astrophysicist who developed the standard theory of disk accretion.”

He met his wife, Olga, on the day he arrived in the United States as a teenager.
“Meeting her that day confirmed what the USA brochure had said: America really is a great country.”


Photo by Lance Hayashida