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 (age 39–40)
Alma materPrinceton University (PhD)
California Institute of Technology (BS)
Scientific career
Theoretical astrophysics[1]
InstitutionsNorth Carolina State University
University of Cambridge
ThesisTests of early universe physics from observational astronomy (2009)
Doctoral advisorPaul Steinhardt[2]
Websitewww.astrokatie.com Edit this at Wikidata

Katherine J. Mack (born 1981)[3] is a theoretical cosmologist and Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University. 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.[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]

Mack works at the intersection between fundamental physics and astrophysics. Her research considers dark matter,[20] vacuum decay,[21] the formation of galaxies, observable tracers of cosmic evolution and the Epoch of Reionisation.[22] Mack has described dark matter as one of science's "most pressing enigmas".[23][24] She has worked on dark matter self-annihilation[25] Mack has investigated whether the accretion of dark matter could result in the growth of primordial black holes (PBHs).[26] She has worked on the impact of PBHs on the cosmic microwave background.[27] She has become increasingly interested, too, in the end of the universe.[28]

Public engagement and advocacy[edit]

Mack maintains a strong science outreach presence on both social and traditional media.[29][30] 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.[31][32][33][34][35][36] Mack's Twitter account has over 300,000 followers; her response to a climate change denier on that platform gained mainstream coverage,[37][38] as did her "Chirp for LIGO" upon the first detection of gravitational waves.[39][40] 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.[41][42]

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.[43] In February 2019 Mack appeared in an episode of The Jodcast, talking about her work and science communication.[44] Mack was a member of the jury for the Alfred P. Sloan Prize in the 2019 Sundance Film Festival.[45] In 2019, she was referenced on the Hozier track 'No Plan' from his album Wasteland, Baby!: "As Mack explained, there will be darkness again".[46]

She is a member of the Sloan Science & Film community, where she works on science fiction.[47][48]

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.[49][50] It considers the five scenarios for the end of universe (both theoretically and practically),[49] and has received positive reviews both for its science outreach accuracy and its wit.[51][52][53] The book [54] 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.[55]

In 2021, Mack discussed her work with Brady Haran in a podcast on Haran's Numberphile2 channel·[56]

Personal life[edit]

Mack is interested in the intersection of art, poetry and science.[57] She is bisexual.[58]


  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. proquest.com (PhD thesis). Princeton University. OCLC 437814758.
  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. 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. 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. ^ Mack, Katie (2014-02-25). "I'm Looking for Evidence That Dark Matter Messed With Stars and Galaxies". Slate Magazine. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  21. ^ "Vacuum decay: the ultimate catastrophe". Cosmos Magazine. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  22. ^ Astrokatie (2012-08-31). "The Universe, in Theory: The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Cosmos". The Universe, in Theory. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  23. ^ "U of T Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics | Dark Matter, First Light". Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  24. ^ Slezak, Michael. "Bright light may not be dark matter's smoking gun after all". New Scientist. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  25. ^ Mack, Katherine J. (2014-02-20). "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. ISSN 1365-2966. S2CID 118667373.
  26. ^ Mack, Katherine J.; Ostriker, Jeremiah P.; Ricotti, Massimo (2007-08-20). "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. ISSN 0004-637X. S2CID 15798444.
  27. ^ Ricotti, Massimo; Ostriker, Jeremiah P.; Mack, Katherine J. (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. ISSN 0004-637X. S2CID 11814173.
  28. ^ "Death of a Universe | College of Sciences | Georgia Institute of Technology | Atlanta, GA". cos.gatech.edu. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  29. ^ "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.
  30. ^ Mack, Katie (2017-06-12). "Black Holes, Cosmic Collisions and the Rippling of Spacetime". The Atlantic.
  31. ^ "Death of a Universe | La mort d'un Univers (25 February 2019) · Indico". Indico. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  32. ^ "Stories by Katie Mack". Scientific American. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  33. ^ "Katie Mack | The Guardian". the Guardian. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  34. ^ "Katie Mack". Cosmos Magazine. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  35. ^ Mack, Katherine J. "From black holes to dark matter, an astrophysicist explains". The Conversation. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  36. ^ Halton, Mary (2018-03-28). "Ghost galaxy prompts cosmic mystery". Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  37. ^ "Astrophysicist Katie Mack lays the smackdown on mansplainer with droll Twitter burn". NYT. 2016-08-16. Retrieved 2017-07-01.
  38. ^ Mezzofiore, Gianluca. "Astrophysicist had the perfect response to climate change denier". Mashable. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  39. ^ Castelvecchi, Davide; Witze, Alexandra (11 February 2016). "Einstein's gravitational waves found at last". Nature News. doi:10.1038/nature.2016.19361. S2CID 182916902. Retrieved 11 February 2016.
  40. ^ Roston, Michael (11 February 2016). "Scientists Chirp Excitedly for LIGO, Gravitational Waves and Einstein". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 13 February 2016.
  41. ^ "Katie Mack is the 2017 Women in Physics Lecturer". 2017-04-04.
  42. ^ Knox Grammar School (2017-08-09), 'A Tour of the Universe' - Dr Katie Mack, 'Women in Physics' lecture, retrieved 2019-03-26
  43. ^ "Judges and Ambassadors". Nature.com.
  44. ^ "February 2019: Try turning it off and on again!". The Jodcast. 11 February 2019.
  45. ^ "Sundance Film Festival: Juries, Awards Night Host Announced - Thursday, January 17th, 2019". Sundance Film Festival. 2019-01-17. Retrieved 2019-03-25.
  46. ^ Bruton, Louise. "Hozier: 'If I wanted to make a f**king pop song, I would'". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  47. ^ "People - Sloan Science & Film". scienceandfilm.org. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  48. ^ "Sloan Science & Film". scienceandfilm.org. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  49. ^ a b "Book Deals: Week of January 29, 2018". www.publishersweekly.com. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  50. ^ "Book". Katie Mack, Astrophysicist. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  51. ^ Gleick, James (August 4, 2020). "This Is How It All Ends" – via NYTimes.com.
  52. ^ "Katie Mack: 'Knowing how the universe will end is freeing'". August 3, 2020 – via www.bbc.com.
  53. ^ "THE END OF EVERYTHING | Kirkus Reviews" – via www.kirkusreviews.com.
  54. ^ "15 translations Tweet". Retrieved 2020-12-28.
  55. ^ Mack, Katie (2020-08-04). The End of Everything. ISBN 978-1-9821-0354-5.
  56. ^ Brady, Haran. "The High Jumping Cosmologist (with Katie Mack) - Numberphile Podcast". Retrieved 27 February 2021.
  57. ^ "'I want you to live forward, but see backward': a theoretical astrophysicist's manifesto | Aeon Videos". Aeon. Retrieved 2019-03-26.
  58. ^ "Katie Mack | 500 Queer Scientists". 500 Queer Scientists. Retrieved 2020-12-19.

External links[edit]