Jason Steffen

Assistant Professor of Physics and Astronomy
Expertise: Astronomy, Exoplanets, Cosmology, Dark matter and energy, Gravitation, General physics


Jason Steffen works in the field of exoplanets — planets that orbit distant stars. He has been a member of the science team for NASA's Kepler mission.  He continues to analyze data from that mission to understand the properties of planets and planetary systems. He also worked on projects related to dark matter, dark energy, and gravity.

Steffen is originally from Utah and attended graduate school in Seattle. Before coming to UNLV, he was the Lindheimer Fellow at Northwestern University and the Brinson Fellow at Fermilab outside of Chicago.

In addition to his work in astrophysics, he is known for the Steffen Method, a procedure to efficiently board passengers on an airplane.


  • PhD in Physics, University of Washington, Seattle
  • BS in Physics and Mathematic, Weber State University

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Jason Steffen In The News

December 4, 2019
Improving the airplane boarding experience has become something of a holy grail over the years, especially after a 1998 Boeing study suggested that airlines could increase profits by decreasing airplane turnaround time. Since then, airlines have invested significant time and money into seeing if they can speed up one of the most frustrating parts of air travel—and that’s saying a lot, considering the other frustrating elements of flying.
KVVU-TV: Fox 5
November 1, 2019
A professor at UNLV is presenting data obtained from a NASA space mission in the form of music.
Las Vegas Review Journal
October 28, 2019
Outer space might be silent, but if planets could sing their tunes could tell us a lot about how they formed. At least that’s the theory of UNLV researcher and astrophysicist Jason Steffen, who turned data on thousands of distant worlds into chord progressions that may indicate how they have changed since their births.
October 16, 2019
In 1619, German astronomer Johannes Kepler published his Harmonices Mundi (Harmony of the World), a text that investigated how mathematics could help the planets of the solar system create celestial music based on their orbital resonances.

Articles Featuring Jason Steffen

People preparing to cut ribbon on new Fertitta Complex
Campus NewsNovember 1, 2019
A collection of local, national, and international news stories highlighting the people and programs of UNLV.
An image of the Earth depicted as a flat surface.
ResearchMarch 11, 2019
As the Flat Earth Theory gains resurgence with a new Netflix documentary, a UNLV astronomer explains how it fizzles.
petri dish and beakers containing liquids
ResearchDecember 26, 2018
In 2018, faculty and students collaborated with one another and international colleagues on scientific exploration that sought to help people make sense of themselves and the world around them.
image of moon orbits
ResearchSeptember 18, 2018
UNLV astrophysicists ponder "reservoirs of life" on the moons of planets expelled by their hosts and drifting through the galaxy.