Michael Turner

Theoretical Astrophysicist and Cosmologist

Theoretical astrophysicist Michael S. Turner is a recognized figure in pioneering the interdisciplinary field of particle astrophysics and cosmology, for which he shared the 2010 Dannie Heineman Prize. In collaboration with Edward Kolb, he initiated the Fermilab astrophysics program, which today accounts for about 10% of the lab’s activities.

Leading the National Academy study, “Quarks to the Cosmos,” which established the strategic vision for the field, Turner’s scholarly contributions also include predicting cosmic acceleration and coining the term “dark energy”; showing how quantum fluctuations evolve into seed perturbations for galaxies during cosmic inflation; and cultivating several key ideas that helped formulate the cold dark matter theory of structure formation.

His honors include the Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society; the Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society (APS); the Klopsted Award of the American Association of Physics Teachers; the Heineman Prize (with Kolb) of the AAS and American Institute of Physics; and the 2011 Darwin Lecture of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Turner has served as Chief Scientist at the Argonne National Laboratory, Assistant Director for the Mathematical and Physical Sciences at the National Science Foundation, Chair of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, and President of the Aspen Center for Physics. Turner’s recent national service includes membership on the NRC’s Astronomy Decadal Survey (Astro2010) and Board on Physics and Astronomy. He is also a member of the NASA Advisory Committee (NAC) and Senior Editorial Board of Science Magazine.

Currently, Turner is Chairman of the Board of the Aspen Center for Physics, a Director of the Fermi Research Alliance, and a member of the Governing Board of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS Council). He is also the Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, and Director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, which he helped establish. In 2010, he was elected to the Presidential-line of the American Physical Society and will serve as its President in 2013.

Born in Los Angeles, CA, Turner received his B.S. in Physics from Caltech and his M.S. and Ph.D in Physics from Stanford. He also holds an honorary D.Sc. from Michigan State University.