|Born||Cornelis A. Gehrels|
|Occupation||research scientist, professor, lecturer, author|
|Known for||Astrophysics research|
|Awards||Henry Draper Medal (2009)|
Neil Gehrels (1952) is an astrophysicist specializing in the field of Gamma-ray astronomy. He graduated in 1976 with Bachelor's degrees in music and physics from the University of Arizona. He received his Ph.D. in physics in 1982 from the California Institute of Technology with advisor Edward C. Stone. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is married to Ellen Williams, who is a professor of physics at the University of Maryland and Director of ARPA-E at the Department of Energy. They have two children. Thomas (born, 1987) and Emily (born, 1990). His father was Tom Gehrels, also an astronomer.
Dr. Gehrels is currently the Chief of the Astroparticle Physics Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. He is the Principal Investigator for the Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission. Other responsibilities include: Project Scientist for the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (1991–2000), Mission Scientist for Mission INTEGRAL, Deputy Project Scientist for the Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope and Project Scientist for Wide Field Infrared Survey Telescope - WFIRST. He is also a College Park Professor at the University of Maryland and adjunct professor of astronomy and astrophysics at Penn State. His research focuses on transient objects in the universe such as gamma-ray bursts, supernovae and active galaxy flares. He has worked to develop gamma-ray astrophysics from a field of experiments detecting a few objects to a full astronomical discipline with thousands of sources in many classes.
He was elected Chair of the Astronomy Section of the National Academy of Sciences in 2013. He has published over 600 academic articles, which have been cited 36,000 times for an h-index of 91. His most cited works include papers on the discovery of the origin of short gamma-ray bursts, the Swift satellite, Poisson statistics, observations of gamma-ray bursts at the edge of the visible universe, discovery of a relativistic tidal disruption event, and finding of two classes of active galactic nuclei in the gamma-ray band.
- 2012, Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
- 2012, Alumnus of the Year, Honors College, University of Arizona
- 2012, Marrie Massey Award of COSPAR
- 2011, Member International Academy of Astronautics
- 2010, Member National Academy of Sciences
- 2009, George W. Goddard Award, SPIE
- 2009, Henry Draper Medal, National Academy of Sciences
- 2008, Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences
- 2007, Bruno Rossi Prize, American Astronomical Society (awarded to the Swift Gamma-Ray Burst Mission)
- 2005, NASA Exceptional Scientific Achievement Medal
- 2000, Randolph Lovelace Award, American Astronautical Society
- 1993, Fellow, American Physical Society
- 1976-77, Caltech Graduate Fellowship