Robert Kirshner, Ph.D. Named Chief Program Officer for Science

Palo Alto, Calif – The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation today announced Robert Kirshner, Ph.D., as the new chief program officer for science. Kirshner will lead the team responsible for distributing more than $100 million per year for the research and technology that enables fundamental scientific discoveries.

A widely respected astrophysicist, Kirshner is the 2015 Wolf Prize for Physics winner for his role in uncovering the acceleration in the expansion of the universe. As a member of the High-Z Supernova team, he also shares the 2014 Breakthrough Prize for Fundamental Physics.

“We are honored that Dr. Kirshner is joining our foundation. He is renowned not only for his own path-breaking scientific achievements, but also for how he has enabled others to achieve scientific breakthroughs,” said Harvey V. Fineberg, M.D., Ph.D., president of the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. “His understanding of the needs of researchers and their institutions will help the foundation best use our resources to accelerate discovery.”

The Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation science program invests in the development of new technologies, supports some of the world’s top research scientists and brings together new scientific partnerships. Grants support path-breaking endeavors in a wide-range of fields, including data science, physics, quantum materials, marine microbiology, astronomy, plant science, and science learning.

"It is inspiring to join an organization that does so much to advance science,” said Kirshner. “I look forward to working with the team at the foundation and I am excited by the prospect of learning about new fields of science from the investigators we fund.” 

Kirshner served as the Clowes Professor of Science at Harvard University. He is the author of The Extravagant Universe: Exploding Stars, Dark Energy and the Accelerating Cosmos. Kirshner was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1998 and the American Philosophical Society in 2004. He served as president of the American Astronomical Society from 2003-2005.  

A graduate of Harvard College, Kirshner received his Ph.D. in astronomy at Caltech. He was a postdoc at the Kitt Peak National Observatory, and was on the faculty at the University of Michigan for nine years. In 1986, he moved to the Harvard astronomy department. He served as Chairman of the Department from 1990-1997 and as the head of the Optical and Infrared Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics from 1997-2003. 

With more than $6.4 billion in assets, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation is the ninth largest foundation in the United States. The Science Program accounts for approximately 40 percent of the foundation’s annual grantmaking, making the foundation one of the largest private funders of science nationwide. 


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