John Mather Maniac Lecture

Personal Photograph

Nobel Prize Winner in Physics (2006), Senior Project Scientist for the JWST (James Webb Space Telescope) at NASA GSFC

Dr. John Mather is a Senior Astrophysicist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, where his research centers on infrared astronomy and cosmology. He received a bachelor’s degree from Swarthmore College (PA) and a doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley. As a National Research Council (NRC) postdoctoral fellow at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS, NY), he led the proposal efforts for the Cosmic Background Explorer. Dr. Mather came to GSFC to be the Study Scientist and then Project Scientist on COBE, and also was the Principal Investigator for the Far IR Absolute Spectrophotometer (FIRAS) on COBE. He and the COBE team showed that the cosmic microwave background radiation has a blackbody spectrum within 50 parts per million (ppm), confirming the Big Bang theory to extraordinary accuracy.

Since 1995, he has been Senior Project Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope, leading the science team and representing scientific interests within the project management. He has served on advisory and working groups for the National Academy of Sciences, NASA, and NSF for the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA), and the Center for Astrophysical Research in the Antarctic (CAMA). He has received many awards, including the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physics, which he shares with George F. Smoot of the University of California for their work using the COBE satellite to measure the heat radiation from the Big Bang.