Astrophysics

Astrophysics

Most broadly, astrophysics is the physics of everything beyond the Earth. Its purview ranges from cosmology, the study of the origin and evolution of the Universe, to space physics, the study of rarefied plasma in the solar system.

Astrophysicists seek to understand the origin, evolution, and destiny of the Universe and its constituent galaxies, stars, and planets, and the entire observed Universe serves as their laboratory. All areas of astrophysics are united by their common use of astrophysical laboratories to explore fundamental physics, and still, they can be divided into the areas of Cosmology, Compact Objects, and Stars & Planetary Systems, with significant overlap among these fields. 

Astrophysical research is carried out in the Physics Department, the Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL), Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and in close association with the Astronomy Department and the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics (BCCP).

Physics Faculty

Theorists

Jonathan Arons (E)

Professor

Biography

Jonathan Arons earned his Ph.D. in Astronomy from Harvard in 1970. He was a post-doctoral fellow at the Princeton University Observatory in 1970-71, and at the Institute for Advanced Study in 1971-72. He joined the Astronomy Department at UC Berkeley in 1972, and the Physics Department in 1980.

Research Interests

I am fascinated by the physics of compact astrophysical objects, especially neutron stars. I am intrigued by the bizarre behavior of fully ionized plasmas, which mix long range electromagnetic forces with kinetic particle behavior.

Wick Haxton

Professor

Biography

Wick Haxton received his B.A. from UC Santa Cruz in 1971 and his Ph.D. from Stanford in 1976. He spent most of his early research career in the Los Alamos Theory Division, where he was a J. Robert Oppenheimer Fellow and later a staff member.

Dan Kasen

Assistant Professor

Biography

Prof. Kasen received his B.S. from Stanford University and his M.S. and Ph.D. in physics from UC Berkeley. Prior to returning to Cal, he was the Alan C. Davis fellow at Johns Hopkins University and a Hubble fellow at UC Santa Cruz.

Christopher McKee (E)

Interim Dean, Division of Math and Physical Sciences, College of Letters & ScienceProfessor Emeritus

Biography

Chris McKee received his Ph.D. in Physics from UC Berkeley in 1970. After a brief stay at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, he spent a year as a postdoc at Caltech.

Research Interests

Much of my research focuses on how stars form out of the diffuse interstellar medium of galaxies. This problem is conceptually challenging because of the wide variety of physical processes involved and because it involves complex nonlinear interactions.

Eliot Quataert

Thomas and Alison Schneider Professor of Physics

Biography

Quataert received his B.S. in Physics from MIT in 1995 and his Ph. D. in Astronomy from Harvard University in 1999. He was a postdoc in the School of Natural Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study for 2 years before coming to Berkeley as a faculty member in 2001.

Uros Seljak

Professor

Biography

Uros Seljak joined Berkeley as a faculty in 2008, jointly appointed with LBNL. He received his B.S. in 1989 and M.S. in 1991 from Ljubljana University, Slovenia and his PhD in 1995 from MIT. He was a Smithsonian Fellow at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics from 1995 to 1998.

Research Interests

I am a theoretical cosmologist by training but much of my recent work has been focused on how to extract fundamental properties of our universe from cosmological observations.

Steven W. Stahler

Lecturer, Physics Department; Research Astronomer, Astronomy Department

Biography

I have a PhD in physics from UCB, where I attended grad school. I am an astrophysicist, and work on the theory of star formation.

Research Interests

Astronomy, Physics
 

Martin White

Professor

Biography

Martin White received his B.S. in 1988 from the University of Adelaide and his Ph.D. in 1992 from Yale. After postdoctoral positions at the CfPA in Berkeley and an Enrico Fermi Fellowship in Chicago he became Assistant Professor of Physics and of Astronomy at UIUC.

Research Interests

I am a theorist and phenomenologist. While I originally trained in Particle Physics, in the last few years my interest has centered around the question of the formation of structure in the universe.

Experimentalists

Stuart Bale

Professor

Biography

Stuart D. Bale received B.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Minnesota in 1989 and 1994, respectively. After three years of postdoctoral work at Queen Mary College, University of London, he came to a research position at the Space Sciences Laboratory (SSL) at Berkeley.

Research Interests

I am interested in plasma astrophysics from the experimental point of view. Much of the universe is in the plasma state and we are just coming to appreciate the role of plasma dynamics and magnetic fields in the large-scale evolution of astrophysical systems.

Steven Boggs

Professor Department Chair

Biography

Steve Boggs received his B.S. in Physics, summa cum laude, from the University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign in 1991. He received his Ph.D. from Berkeley in 1998, where he held a NASA graduate student research fellowship.

Research Interests

Experimental high energy astrophysics is the study of some of nature's most exotic creations, and their application to exploring fundamental physics. My research is focused on developing and flying new gamma-ray telescopes to probe these environments from space.

William Chinowsky (E)

Professor Emeritus

Biography

Professor of Physics, UC Berkeley, since 1961, Emeritus since 1993.A.B. from Columbia University; Ph.D. from Columbia University, 1955. Staff Physicist, Brookhaven National Laboratory, 1954-1961; Guggenheim Fellow, 1966-67, 1978-1979, Fellow, American Physical Society.

Marc Davis

Professor

Biography

Marc Davis received his B.S. in 1969 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. in 1973 from Princeton. After a lectureship at Princeton he was an assistant/associate Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University from 1975, and moved to Berkeley in 1981.

Research Interests

My research is focused on physical cosmology, especially on questions of the nature of large-scale structure in the Universe and its evolution.

Reinhard Genzel

ProfessorActing Director, Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics

Biography

Reinhard Genzel received his Ph.D. from the University of Bonn (FRG) in 1978. He came to Berkeley as a Miller Fellow in 1980 and joined the Physics Department faculty as Associate Professor in 1981.

Research Interests

My research interests are in experimental astrophysics. My research group and I are studying the physical processes and the evolution of active galaxies and in particular of their central regions.

William Holzapfel

Professor

Biography

I was born March 15, 1965 in Pittsburgh PA. After surviving an early program of experimentation with motorcycles and explosives, I went on to receive a B.A. in physics from Rennselear Polytechnic Institute in 1987. My graduate studies were completed in 1996 with a Ph.D. in physics from Berkeley.

Research Interests

My primary research interests are in the measurement and interpretation of anisotropies of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Primary anisotropies of the CMB provide a probe of the universe at the time when the CMB photons last interacted with the matter.

Adrian Lee

Professor

Biography

Adrian Lee joined the faculty in July 2000. He received his B.A. in physics from Columbia University in 1986 and his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1993. At Stanford, he worked with Blas Cabrera on the early development of an experiment to detect non-baryonic dark matter.

Research Interests

My field of observational cosmology is really exciting right now. New data are coming in at a rapid pace, answering some questions and raising yet more. Currently, the cosmic microwave background (CMB) is the primary focus of my research.

Forrest Mozer (E)

Professor Emeritus

Biography

Research: Astrophysics

Richard Muller (E)

Professor Emeritus

Biography

Richard A. Muller received his A. B. degree from Columbia University, and his Ph.D. at Berkeley working under Luis Alvarez. He has been on the faculty at Berkeley since 1978. He is a fellow of the APS and of the AAAS, and his awards include the Texas Instruments Founders Prize, the NSF Alan T.

Research Interests

I received my Ph.D. in elementary particle physics, but have since moved into astrophysics (anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background; supernovae for cosmology) and geophysics (origin of the earth’s magnetic flips, impact catastrophes, glacial cycles, red sprites).

Saul Perlmutter

Franklin W. and Karen Weber Dabby Professor

Biography

Saul Perlmutter is the Franklin W. and Karen Weber Dabby Chair holder in the Physics Department. He graduated from Harvard magna cum laude in 1981, received his PhD from UC Berkeley in 1986. He joined the UC Berkeley Physics Department in 2004.

P. Buford Price (E)

Professor of the Graduate School

Biography

Ph.D., University of Virginia, 1958; hon. Sc.D. degree, Davidson College, 1973; Professor at Berkeley 1969-2001; Professor in the Graduate School 2001-present; Dean of Physical Sciences 1992-2001; elected National Academy of Sciences 1975; E. O. Lawrence Award 1971.

Research Interests

My interests as an experimentalist are broad. I like to develop projects that cross traditional disciplinary boundaries.

Paul Richards (E)

Professor of the Graduate School

Biography

Paul Richards received his B.A. in 1956 from Harvard and his Ph.D. in 1960 from Berkeley. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Cambridge University he did physics research at the Bell Telephone Laboratories. He joined the Physics faculty at Berkeley in 1966.

Research Interests

My research has developed measurement tools for the far infrared to millimeter wave spectral range and used these tools to work on the most interesting accessible physical problems. I retired in 2004 and now hold an appointment as Professor of the Graduate School at Berkeley.

Bernard Sadoulet

Professor

Biography

Bernard Sadoulet, a graduate of Ecole Polytechnique (1963) and a "Docteur es Sciences" of Paris-Orsay University (1971), is by training an elementary particle physicist.

Research Interests

I am first an instrumentalist, attempting to develop sophisticated detectors capable of answering some of the most fundamental scientific questions of the moment. This is how I designed the UA1 Central Detector, a critical element in the discovery of the W and the Z.

Timothy M. Shokair

Lecturer

Biography

Dr. Shokair completed his A.B. from UC Berkeley in 2005 and Ph.D. in 2012 from the University of Pennsylvania, working on the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) and SNO+ . His primary interest is in experimental particle physics and astrophysics, specifically neutrinos and dark matter.

George Smoot III (E)

Professor

Biography

George Smoot received his Ph.D. in Physics from M.I.T. in 1970 and was a post-doctoral researcher at M.I.T. before moving to UC Berkeley in 1971. Honors include: NASA Medal for Exceptional Science Achievement, Kilby Award, Lawrence Award, Nobel Prize in Physics 2006.

Research Interests

2006 Nobel Prize winner-Experimental Astrophysicist George Smoot is an active researcher in observational astrophysics and cosmology.

Mark Strovink (E)

Professor Emeritus

Biography

Mark Strovink, Ph.D. 1970 (Princeton). Joined UC Berkeley faculty in 1973 (Professor since 1980). Elected Fellow of the American Physical Society; served as program advisor for Fermilab (chair), SLAC (chair), Brookhaven, and the U.S.

Research Interests

After 40 years in elementary particle physics, in late 2004 I turned my attention to the unexplained force that accelerates the universe's expansion. As an experimentalist, I am interested in understanding how best to standardize Type Ia supernovae (SNe) as cosmological distance indicators.

Charles Townes (E)

Professor

Biography

Ph.D., California Institute of Technology, 1939, Professor at Berkeley since 1967; member National Academy of Sciences; Nobel Prize in Physics, 1964.

Research Interests

I am interested in astrophysics broadly. My primary research at present involves very high angular resolution astronomy in the mid-infrared (10 micron wavelength region) by use of interferometric techniques.