Robert Kirshner, Ph.D.

Chief Program Officer, Science


Bob spearheads the foundation's Science program.

Robert Kirshner, Ph.D.


Robert Kirshner joined the Moore foundation in 2015 after 31 years as an astronomer on the faculty at Harvard University. He is known for extensive work in the field of supernova explosions and their application to measuring the history of the universe. At last count, he is a co-author of 360 refereed papers that have been cited 44,951 times. This work has led to many prizes, including 2014 Breakthrough Prize for the High-Z Supernova team, the 2015 Wolf Prize in Physics for Kirshner, and the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for two of his graduate students. The Wolf Foundation stated, “Kirshner created the group, environment and directions that allowed his graduate students and postdoctoral fellows to uncover the acceleration in the expansion of the universe.”

A graduate of Harvard College, Bob received his Ph.D. in astronomy at Caltech. He was a postdoc at the Kitt Peak National Observatory and then on the faculty at the University of Michigan for 9 years before moving to Harvard, where he became Clowes Professor of Science. He served as chairman of the Harvard Department of Astronomy for 1990-1997, then as head of the Optical and Infrared Division of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics from 1997-2003. He was master of Quincy House, one of Harvard’s undergraduate residences from 2001-2007.

A frequent public speaker on astronomical topics, he is the author of a popular-level book “The Extravagant Universe: Exploding Stars, Dark Energy, and the Accelerating Cosmos.” He was elected to the National Academy of Science, to the American Philosophical Society, and other learned societies. He served as president of the American Astronomical Society from 2003-2005. In 2014, he received the James Craig Watson Medal of the National Academy for outstanding contributions to the science of astronomy. As of 2016, he has become Clowes Research Professor of Science at Harvard University: in addition to his work leading the science program at the Moore foundation to accelerate progress in science, he continues his research into the nature of the dark energy that is accelerating the universe.


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