David Todd Wilkinson

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David Todd Wilkinson
David Todd Wilkinson.jpg
Born13 May 1935
Died5 September 2002 (aged 67 years, 200 days)
Alma materUniversity of Michigan
AwardsJames Craig Watson Medal (2001)
Scientific career
InstitutionsPrinceton University
Doctoral advisorH. Richard Crane
Doctoral studentsMarc Davis
Suzanne Staggs
Peter Saulson

David Todd Wilkinson (13 May 1935 – 5 September 2002)[1] was a world-renowned pioneer in the field of cosmology, specializing in the study of the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) left over from the Big Bang.


He was born in Hillsdale, Michigan, and earned his Ph.D. in physics at the University of Michigan under the supervision of H. Richard Crane.[2]

Research and Career[edit]

He was a Professor of Physics at Princeton University from 1965 until his retirement in 2002. He made fundamental contributions to many major cosmic microwave background experiments, including two NASA satellites: the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) and the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), which was named in his honor after his death due to cancer.[3]


His numerous accolades include the Princeton President's Award for Distinguished Teaching, election to the National Academy of Sciences in 1983, and the James Craig Watson Medal (2001).


  1. ^ "Dr. David T. Wilkinson, 67, a Physicist Who Searched for Big Bang's Echoes Is Dead". NY Times. 2002.
  2. ^ Mather, John C.; Page, Lyman; Peebles, P. James E. (May 2003). "Obituary: David Todd Wilkinson". Physics Today. 56 (5): 76–77. Bibcode:2003PhT....56e..76M. doi:10.1063/1.1583543.
  3. ^ "Physicist David Wilkinson, explorer of Big Bang afterglow, dies" (Press release). Princeton University. September 6, 2002. Retrieved 2009-09-17.