Katie Mack (astrophysicist)

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Katie Mack
Katie Mack-IMG 8876.jpeg
Mack giving her talk on the End of the Universe at CERN on 25 February 2019
Katherine J. Mack

(1981-05-01) 1 May 1981 (age 41)
Alma materPrinceton University (PhD)
California Institute of Technology (BS)
Scientific career
Theoretical astrophysics[1]
InstitutionsPerimeter Institute
North Carolina State University
University of Melbourne
University of Cambridge
Thesis[ProQuest 304982499 Tests of Early Universe Physics from Observational Astronomy(2009)
Doctoral advisorPaul Steinhardt[2]
Websitewww.astrokatie.com Edit this at Wikidata

Katherine J. Mack (born 1 May 1981)[3] is a theoretical cosmologist who holds the Hawking Chair in Cosmology and Science Communication at Perimeter Institute. Her academic research investigates dark matter, vacuum decay and the epoch of reionisation.[4][1][5] Mack is also a popular science communicator who participates in social media and regularly writes for Scientific American, Slate, Sky & Telescope, Time, and Cosmos.[6][7]

Early life and education[edit]

External video
video icon A Tour of the Universe: Women in Physics Lecture
video icon Shells of Cosmic Time

Mack became interested in science as a child and built solar-powered cars out of Lego blocks.[8] Her mother is a fan of science fiction, and encouraged Mack to watch Star Trek and Star Wars.[9] Her grandfather was a student at Caltech and worked on the Apollo 11 mission.[10] She became more interested in spacetime and the Big Bang after attending talks by scientists such as Stephen Hawking.[8]

Mack attended California Institute of Technology, and appeared as an extra in the opening credits of the 2001 American comedy film Legally Blonde when they filmed on campus.[11] She received her undergraduate degree in physics in 2003.[12][13] Mack obtained her PhD in astrophysics from Princeton University in 2009.[14] Her thesis on the early universe was supervised by Paul Steinhardt.[2][15]

Research and career[edit]

After earning her doctorate, Mack joined the University of Cambridge as a Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) postdoctoral research fellow at the Kavli Institute for Cosmology.[13] Later in 2012, Mack was a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) Fellow at the University of Melbourne.[16] Mack was involved with the construction of the dark matter detector SABRE.[17]

In January 2018, Mack became an Assistant Professor and a member of university's Leadership in Public Science Cluster in the Department of Physics at North Carolina State University.[18][19] She joined the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in June 2022, as the inaugural Hawking Chair in Cosmology and Science Communication.[20][21] The Canadian multidisciplinary research organization CIFAR named her one of the CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars in 2022.[22]

Mack works at the intersection between fundamental physics and astrophysics. Her research considers dark matter,[23] vacuum decay,[24] the formation of galaxies, observable tracers of cosmic evolution and the Epoch of Reionisation.[25] Mack has described dark matter as one of science's "most pressing enigmas".[26][27] She has worked on dark matter self-annihilation[28] Mack has investigated whether the accretion of dark matter could result in the growth of primordial black holes (PBHs).[29] She has worked on the impact of PBHs on the cosmic microwave background.[30] She has become increasingly interested, too, in the end of the universe.[31]

Public engagement and advocacy[edit]

Mack maintains a strong science outreach presence on both social and traditional media.[32][33] She has been described by Motherboard and Creative Cultivate as a "social media celebrity".[8][17] Mack is a popular science writer, and has contributed to The Guardian, Scientific American, Slate, The Conversation, Sky & Telescope, Gizmodo, Time and Cosmos, as well as providing expert information to the BBC.[34][35][36][37][38][39] Mack's Twitter account has over 300,000 followers; her response to a climate change denier on that platform gained mainstream coverage,[40][41] as did her "Chirp for LIGO" upon the first detection of gravitational waves.[42][43] She was the 2017 Australian Institute of Physics Women in Physics lecturer, in which capacity she spent three weeks delivering talks at schools and universities across Australia.[44][45]

In 2018, Mack was chosen to be one of the judges for Nature magazine's newly founded Nature Research Awards for Inspiring Science and Innovating Science.[46] In February 2019 Mack appeared in an episode of The Jodcast, talking about her work and science communication.[47] Mack was a member of the jury for the Alfred P. Sloan Prize in the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.[48] In 2019, she was referenced on the Hozier track 'No Plan' from his album Wasteland, Baby!: "As Mack explained, there will be darkness again".[49]

She is a member of the Sloan Science & Film community, where she works on science fiction.[50][51]

Her first book, The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking), was published by Simon & Schuster in August 2020, the firm having won the rights to Mack's first book in an eight-way bidding battle.[52][53] It considers the five scenarios for the end of universe (both theoretically and practically),[52] and has received positive reviews both for its science outreach accuracy and its wit.[54][55][56] The book [57] is also a New York Times Notable Book and features on the best books of the year lists of The Washington Post, The Economist, New Scientist, Publishers Weekly, and The Guardian.[58]

Personal life[edit]

Mack is interested in the intersection of art, poetry and science.[59] She is bisexual.[60]


  1. ^ a b Katie Mack publications indexed by Google Scholar Edit this at Wikidata
  2. ^ a b Mack, Katherine J. (2009). Tests of Early Universe Physics from Observational Astronomy (PhD thesis). Princeton University. OCLC 437814758. ProQuest 304982499.
  3. ^ "Mack, Katie, 1981-". id.loc.gov. Retrieved July 7, 2021.
  4. ^ Katie Mack's ORCID 0000-0001-8927-1795
  5. ^ Mack, Katie. "A Tour of the Universe (and selected cosmic mysteries)". slideshare.net. Retrieved 2017-07-01.
  6. ^ Official website Edit this at Wikidata
  7. ^ Katie Mack on Twitter Edit this at Wikidata
  8. ^ a b c "Create & Cultivate 100: STEM & Finance: Katie Mack". Create + Cultivate. 21 January 2019. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  9. ^ Cox, Ana Marie (2018-10-23). "Space the Nation: Katie Mack, the mansplainer slayer, on getting science right". SYFY WIRE. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  10. ^ Stasio, Dana Terry, Frank. "A Scientist Who Found Her Faith In Physics: Meet Katie Mack, AKA AstroKatie". www.wunc.org. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  11. ^ "Katie Mack". Twitter. Retrieved 2020-08-04.
  12. ^ "On Astrophysics, Stardust, and Our (Teeny Tiny) Place in the Universe". Techer. Archived from the original on 2019-03-27. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  13. ^ a b "Katherine (Katie) Mack | Department of Physics | NC State University". 2018-05-24. Retrieved 2018-11-19.
  14. ^ "Katie Mack *09: Taming of the Troll". Princeton Alumni Weekly. 2016-09-26. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  15. ^ "Katherine Mack". www.planetary.org. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  16. ^ "Katie Mack's Webpage". www.ph.unimelb.edu.au. Retrieved 2018-11-19.
  17. ^ a b Scoles, Sarah (2017-04-10). "I Went to the 'Contact' Radio Telescope with the Astrophysicist Behind Twitter's All-Time Sickest Burn". Motherboard. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  18. ^ "Katie Mack | Chancellor's Faculty Excellence Program | NC State University". 2018-01-08. Retrieved 2018-11-19.
  19. ^ "Katherine Mack: Assistant Professor". NCSU Physics. Retrieved 2018-01-01.
  20. ^ Brown, Mike (2021-12-07). "Katie Mack to join Perimeter as Hawking Chair in Cosmology and Science Communication | PI News". perimeterinstitute.ca. Retrieved 2021-12-07.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  21. ^ @Perimeter (2022-06-03). "We're so thrilled to welcome you to Waterloo, Katie! Katie is the Hawking Chair in Cosmology and Science Communication, the perfect choice for a position with a dual focus on research and sharing science with the broader public" (Tweet). Retrieved 2022-06-07 – via Twitter.
  22. ^ "Meet the 2022-2024 cohort of CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholars". CIFAR. 2022-06-07. Retrieved 2022-06-07.
  23. ^ Mack, Katie (2014-02-25). "I'm Looking for Evidence That Dark Matter Messed With Stars and Galaxies". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  24. ^ "Vacuum decay: the ultimate catastrophe". Cosmos Magazine. 14 September 2015. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  25. ^ Astrokatie (2012-08-31). "The Universe, in Theory: The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Cosmos". The Universe, in Theory. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  26. ^ "U of T Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics | Dark Matter, First Light". Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  27. ^ Slezak, Michael. "Bright light may not be dark matter's smoking gun after all". New Scientist. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  28. ^ Mack, Katherine J. (11 April 2014). "Known unknowns of dark matter annihilation over cosmic time". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 439 (3): 2728–2735. arXiv:1309.7783. Bibcode:2014MNRAS.439.2728M. doi:10.1093/mnras/stu129. S2CID 118667373.
  29. ^ Mack, Katherine J.; Ostriker, Jeremiah P.; Ricotti, Massimo (20 August 2007). "Growth of Structure Seeded by Primordial Black Holes". The Astrophysical Journal. 665 (2): 1277–1287. arXiv:astro-ph/0608642. Bibcode:2007ApJ...665.1277M. doi:10.1086/518998. S2CID 15798444.
  30. ^ Ricotti, Massimo; Ostriker, Jeremiah P.; Mack, Katherine J. (20 June 2008). "Effect of Primordial Black Holes on the Cosmic Microwave Background and Cosmological Parameter Estimates". The Astrophysical Journal. 680 (2): 829–845. arXiv:0709.0524. Bibcode:2008ApJ...680..829R. doi:10.1086/587831. S2CID 11814173.
  31. ^ "Death of a Universe | College of Sciences | Georgia Institute of Technology | Atlanta, GA". cos.gatech.edu. Retrieved 2019-03-26.[dead link]
  32. ^ "Electric Lady Influencer of the Week: Katie Mack". Electric Lady. 2017-04-28. Archived from the original on 2017-08-01. Retrieved 2017-07-01.
  33. ^ Mack, Katie (2017-06-12). "Black Holes, Cosmic Collisions and the Rippling of Spacetime". The Atlantic.
  34. ^ "Death of a Universe | La mort d'un Univers (25 February 2019) · Indico". Indico. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  35. ^ "Stories by Katie Mack". Scientific American. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  36. ^ "Katie Mack". The Guardian. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  37. ^ "Katie Mack". Cosmos Magazine. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  38. ^ Mack, Katherine J. "From black holes to dark matter, an astrophysicist explains". The Conversation. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  39. ^ Halton, Mary (2018-03-28). "Ghost galaxy prompts cosmic mystery". Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  40. ^ "Astrophysicist Katie Mack lays the smackdown on mansplainer with droll Twitter burn". NYT. 2016-08-16. Retrieved 2017-07-01.
  41. ^ Mezzofiore, Gianluca (16 August 2016). "Astrophysicist had the perfect response to climate change denier". Mashable. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  42. ^ Castelvecchi, Davide; Witze, Alexandra (11 February 2016). "Einstein's gravitational waves found at last". Nature: nature.2016.19361. doi:10.1038/nature.2016.19361. S2CID 182916902.
  43. ^ Roston, Michael (11 February 2016). "Scientists Chirp Excitedly for LIGO, Gravitational Waves and Einstein". The New York Times.
  44. ^ "Katie Mack is the 2017 Women in Physics Lecturer". 2017-04-04.
  45. ^ Knox Grammar School (2017-08-09), 'A Tour of the Universe' - Dr Katie Mack, 'Women in Physics' lecture, retrieved 2019-03-26
  46. ^ "Judges and Ambassadors". Nature.com.
  47. ^ "February 2019: Try turning it off and on again!". The Jodcast. 11 February 2019.
  48. ^ "Sundance Film Festival: Juries, Awards Night Host Announced - Thursday, January 17th, 2019". Sundance Film Festival. 2019-01-17. Retrieved 2019-03-25.
  49. ^ Bruton, Louise. "Hozier: 'If I wanted to make a f**king pop song, I would'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  50. ^ "People - Sloan Science & Film". scienceandfilm.org. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  51. ^ "Sloan Science & Film". scienceandfilm.org. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  52. ^ a b "Book Deals: Week of January 29, 2018". www.publishersweekly.com. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  53. ^ "Book". Katie Mack, Astrophysicist. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  54. ^ Gleick, James (August 4, 2020). "This Is How It All Ends". The New York Times.
  55. ^ "Katie Mack: 'Knowing how the universe will end is freeing'". BBC News. August 3, 2020.
  56. ^ "THE END OF EVERYTHING | Kirkus Reviews" – via www.kirkusreviews.com.
  57. ^ "15 translations Tweet". Retrieved 2020-12-28.
  58. ^ Mack, Katie (2020-08-04). The End of Everything. ISBN 978-1-9821-0354-5.
  59. ^ "'I want you to live forward, but see backward': a theoretical astrophysicist's manifesto | Aeon Videos". Aeon. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  60. ^ "Katie Mack | 500 Queer Scientists". 500 Queer Scientists. Retrieved 2020-12-19.

External links[edit]