Astrophysicist David Spergel Begins his Tenure as President of the Simons Foundation

Wednesday, Jul 7, 2021
by Department of Astrophysical Sciences

David Spergel, Emeritus Professor of Astrophysical Sciences, Emeritus Charles A. Young Professor of Astronomy, and past Chair of the Department of Astrophysical Sciences began his tenure as President of the Simons Foundation on July 1st. He was appointed to this role by co-founders of the Simons Foundation, Jim and Marilyn Simons. David assumes the presidency from Marilyn Simons, who has been overseeing administration, education, and outreach activities since the Foundation’s inception in 1994.  In addition, David will take on the roles previously held by Jim Simons in overseeing scientific grants and the Flatiron Institute, the Foundation’s internal computational research division. David joined the Simons Foundation in September 2016 as the Founding Director of the Center for Computational Astrophysics (CCA), one of five math and science centers housed in the Flatiron Institute.  Established in New York City, the Simons Foundation is one of the largest philanthropic organizations in the United States with assets of $4.6 billion. The mission of the Foundation is “to advance the frontiers of research in mathematics and the basic sciences”.

Professor Spergel is a theoretical astrophysicist who has worked on a wide range of topics from exoplanet searches to dynamics of stellar systems to the nature of dark matter and dark energy.  He is particularly known for his many foundational contributions to the field of modern cosmology.  For the WMAP mission, Spergel led the analysis of cosmic background radiation maps that were key to establishing the current standard cosmological model. With the Atacama Cosmology Telescope, he has continued to lead teams in measuring the age, shape and properties of the Universe. He is currently co-Chair of the science team planning for NASA’s WFIRST science mission, which will make precision cosmology measurements and characterize exoplanets. David Spergel has been the recipient of numerous scientific and professional awards including: the 2018 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics, the NASA Exceptional Public Service Medal, the Heineman Prize for Astrophysics and Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society, the Shaw Prize in Astronomy, and a Mac Arthur fellowship. He is a Member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.  In addition, he has served on numerous boards and advisory committees for the National Academy of Sciences, NASA, and the International Astronomical Union.   

Dr. Spergel will lead the Foundation with the guiding principles of enabling transformative research to continue; training scientists to be at the fore-front of their fields; and by continuing to foster diversity, equity and inclusion to achieve scientific excellence. In addition to his responsibilities as President, Professor Spergel plans to continue his astrophysics research and to mentor undergraduate/graduate students and postdoctoral fellows at Princeton University.

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