Amber Miller aims to understand the origin and evolution of the universe by studying the cosmic microwave background, the faint glow of light left over from the Big Bang. She leads a team at Columbia University that designs, builds, deploys and analyzes data from new telescopes employing cutting-edge technology, such as the EBEX experiment, a 6,000-pound telescope designed to launch into the stratosphere from a balloon in the Antarctic and capture microwaves with the goal of understanding the universe when it was much less than a second old. The data will complement two of Miller’s other projects, QUIET (the Q U Imaging Experiment), a telescope that was deployed in northern Chile, and the Sunyaev-Zel’dovich Array, a group of telescopes that were based in Owens Valley, California.
Currently the Dean of Science for Columbia’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences, Miller is also interested in issues on the interface between science and policy. She developed and piloted a seminar at Columbia entitled “Science, Policy, and Critical Thinking,” and teaches courses such as “Weapons of Mass Destruction” and “Physics for Poets.” She is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and recently served as the Chief Science Advisor to the NYPD Counterterrorism Bureau. Her scientific work has been recognized with an NSF Career Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship and the Columbia Distinguished Faculty Award.