Richard Ellis (astronomer)

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Richard Salisbury Ellis
Richard Ellis - 01.jpg
Ellis at the ESO@50 conference, Garching near Munich, September 2012.
Born (1950-05-25) 25 May 1950 (age 65)
Colwyn Bay, Wales
Nationality British
Fields Astronomy
Institutions University of Cambridge
Alma mater University College London
University of Oxford
Notable awards Bakerian Lecture 1998
Gruber Prize in Cosmology (shared) 2007
Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society 2011
Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics (shared) 2014

Richard Salisbury Ellis CBE FRS (born 25 May 1950, Colwyn Bay, Wales) is the Steele Professor of Astronomy at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He was awarded the 2011 Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society.


He read astronomy at University College London and obtained a DPhil at Wolfson College at the University of Oxford in 1974. After developing a strong research effort at the University of Durham (with two years at the Royal Greenwich Observatory), he was appointed a professor in 1985. In 1993 he moved to the University of Cambridge as the Plumian Professor and became a Professorial Fellow at Magdalene College. He served as Director of the Institute of Astronomy from 1994 to 1999 at which point he moved to Caltech.

Ellis works primarily in observational cosmology, considering the origin and evolution of galaxies, the evolution of large scale structure in the universe, and the nature and distribution of dark matter. He worked on the Morphs collaboration studying the formation and morphologies of distant galaxies.[1] Particular interests include applications using gravitational lensing and high-redshift supernovae. He was a member of the Supernova Cosmology Project whose leader, Saul Perlmutter, shared the 2011 Nobel Prize for Physics for the team's surprising discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe. His most recent discoveries relate to searches for the earliest known galaxies, seen when the Universe was only a few percent of its present age.

At Caltech, Professor Ellis was Director of the Palomar Observatory from 2000-2005 and has played a key role in developing the scientific and technical case, as well as building the partnership, for the Thirty Meter Telescope - a collaborative effort involving Caltech, the University of California, Canada, Japan, China and India destined for Mauna Kea, Hawaii. When constructed this will be the largest ground-based optical and near-infrared telescope.

He was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1995, and a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2008 New Year Honours.



  1. ^ "The Morphs" Durham University, United Kingdom

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