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John C. Mather

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John Cromwell Mather
Mather in 2015
Born (1946-08-07) August 7, 1946 (age 77)
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
Columbia University
ThesisFar Infrared Spectrometry of the Cosmic Background Radiation (1974)
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, Time magazine listed Mather among the 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 the 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 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 served as the senior project scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) from 1995 until 2023, when he was succeeded by Jane Rigby.[3]

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

Education and initial research[edit]

  • 1964 Newton High School, Newton, New Jersey[4]
  • 1968 B.Sc. (Physics), Swarthmore College (Highest Honors)
  • 1974 Ph.D. (Physics), University of California, Berkeley
  • 1974–1976 (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. ^ Gutro, Rob (Jun 28, 2023). Adkins, Jamie (ed.). "NASA Names Dr. Jane Rigby New Webb Telescope Senior Project Scientist". NASA. Retrieved June 28, 2023.
    4. ^ John C. Mather on Nobelprize.org Edit this at Wikidata, 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."
    5. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". www.achievement.org. American Academy of Achievement.
    6. ^ "NASA - Goddard Space Science is the Place for Awards This Season".
    7. ^ "PM gives away awards to prominent scientists". PIB. Government of India. 3 January 2010. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011.
    8. ^ University of Notre Dame. "Honorary Degrees". Archived from the original on 13 August 2011. Retrieved 20 June 2011.
    9. ^ "AAS Fellows". AAS. Retrieved 29 September 2020.

    External links[edit]