John C. Mather

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John Cromwell Mather
John Mather (cropped).jpg
John C. Mather (March 2015)
Born (1946-08-07) August 7, 1946 (age 74)
NationalityUnited States
Alma materSwarthmore College
University of California, Berkeley
Known forCosmic microwave background radiation studies
AwardsDannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics (1993)
Nobel Prize in Physics (2006)
Scientific career
FieldsAstrophysics, cosmology
University of Maryland
Doctoral advisorPaul L. Richards

John Cromwell Mather (born August 7, 1946, Roanoke, Virginia) is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist and Nobel Prize in Physics laureate for his work on the Cosmic Background Explorer Satellite (COBE) with George Smoot.

This work helped cement the big-bang theory of the universe. According to the Nobel Prize committee, "the COBE-project can also be regarded as the starting point for cosmology as a precision science."[1]

Mather is a senior astrophysicist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) in Maryland and adjunct professor of physics at the University of Maryland College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. In 2007, Mather was listed among Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in The World. In October, 2012, he was listed again by Time magazine in a special issue on New Space Discoveries as one of 25 most influential people in space.

Mather is one of the 20 American recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics to sign a letter addressed to President George W. Bush in May of 2008, urging him to "reverse the damage done to basic science research in the Fiscal Year 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Bill" by requesting additional emergency funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.[2]

Mather is also the project scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), a space telescope scheduled to be launched to Lagrange Point L2 in March 2021.

In 2014, Mather delivered an address on the Webb Space Telescope at the second Starmus Festival in the Canary Islands.

Education and initial research[edit]

  • 1964 Newton High School, Newton, New Jersey[3]
  • 1968 B.Sc. (Physics), Swarthmore College (Highest Honors)
  • 1974 Ph.D. (Physics), University of California, Berkeley
  • 1974-76 (NRC Postdoctoral Fellow), Columbia University Goddard Institute for Space Studies
  • Honors and awards[edit]



    Mather is the Science Director of the National Academy of Future Scientists and Technologists.


    1. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physics 2006" (Press release). The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. 3 October 2006. Retrieved 2006-10-05.
    2. ^ "A Letter from America's Physics Nobel Laureates" (PDF).
    3. ^ John C. Mather on, accessed 30 April 2020 "When I finished 8th grade, it was time to go to high school, and my parents decided to send me to Newton High School, where they thought we would get the best available education in our area."
    4. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
    5. ^ University of Notre Dame. "Honorary Degrees". Archived from the original on 13 August 2011. Retrieved 20 June 2011.

    External links[edit]