Steven Kahn

Offices: 210B Durant, 601B Campbell

Job title: 
Dean of Mathematical & Physical Sciences, Professor of Physics, Professor of Astronomy
Steven M. Kahn is a Professor of Physics and Astronomy.  He previously served on the faculty in these departments from 1984-98, but returned to Berkeley in 2022 to take up the position of Dean of Mathematical and Physical Sciences.  Kahn received his A.B. (summa cum laude) from Columbia in 1975 and his Ph.D. in physics at Berkeley in 1980.  In addition to Berkeley, he has served on the faculties of Columbia, where he was the I.I. Rabi Professor of Physics, and at Stanford, where he was the Cassius Lamb Kirk Professor in the Natural Sciences.  Kahn is an experimental astrophysicist and cosmologist.  He was the U.S. Principal Investigator for the Reflection Grating Spectrometer on the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton Observatory, which was launched in December 1999 and is still flying.  More recently, he was the Director of the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, currently under construction, which will begin operations in 2024.  Kahn is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Research Interests:

My current research is geared around the Vera C. Rubin Observatory, which will come on-line in the next two years.  I am working on the commissioning of the active optics system, with particular emphasis on the application of new techniques associated with machine learning and reinforcement learning.  Scientifically, my main interests lie in constraining the nature of dark energy through weak gravitational lensing and other statistical methods.  I am also interested in the use of Rubin to discover ultrafast optical transient sources through novel methods.

Recent Publications:

R. Mandelbaum, T. Eifler, R. Hlozek, T. Collett, E. Gawiser, D. Scolnic, D. Alonzo, H. Awan, R. Biswas, J. Blazek, P. Burchat, N.E. Chisari, I. Dell’Antonio, S. Digel, J. Frieman, D.A. Goldstein, I. Hook, Z. Ivezic, S.M. Kahn, S. Kamath, D. Kirkby, T. Kitching, E. Krause, P.-F. Leget, P.J. Marshall, J. Meyers, H. Miyatake, J.A. Newman, R. Nichol, E. Rykoff, F.J. Sanchez, A. Slosar, M. Sullivan, and M.A. Troxel, “The LSST Dark Energy Science Collaboration (DESC) Science Requirements Document”, arXiv:1809.01669 (2018).

D. Thomas and S.M. Kahn, “Searching for Subsecond Stellar Variability with Wide-field Star Trails and Deep Learning”, Ap. J., 868, 38T (2018). 

D. Thomas, S.M. Kahn, F.B. Bianco, Z. Ivezic, C.M. Raiteri, A. Possenti, J.R. Peterson, C.J. Burke, R.D. Blum, G.H. Jacoby, S.B. Howell, and G. Madejski, “Unveiling the Rich and Diverse Universe of Subsecond Astrophysics through LSST Star Trails”, arXiv:181202932T (2018).

Z. Ivezic, S.M. Kahn, J.A. Tyson et al., “LSST:  From Science Drivers to Reference Design and Anticipated Data Products, Ap. J., 873, 111 (2019). 

D. Thomas, J. Meyers, and S.M. Kahn, “Wide-field wavefront sensing with convolutional neural networks and ordinary least squares”, Proc. SPIE, 11448, 11448H (2020). 

B. Abolfathi et al., “The LSST DESC DC2 Simulated Sky Survey, Ap. J. Suppl, 253, 31L (2021)