About Us > Our People > Board of Directors > David N. Spergel, PhD

David N. Spergel, PhD

Board Member, NYGC President, Simons Foundation

David N. Spergel is the President of the Simons Foundation.

Spergel received his undergraduate degree from Princeton in 1982 (summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa). After a year of study at Oxford University, he received his PhD from Harvard in 1985. After two years as a long-term member at the Institute for Advanced Study, he joined the Princeton astrophysics faculty in 1987, where he was also Associate Faculty in the Departments of Physics and Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. He served as Department Chair from 2006 to 2016. During his term as chair, the department was consistently ranked as #1 by US News and World Reports and by the NAS. He is the Charles Young Professor of Astronomy Emeritus at Princeton University and was the Founding Director of the Center of Computational Astrophysics at the Flatiron Institute in NY. In 2016, he became the Founding Director of the Center for Computational Astrophysics. In 2021, he assumed leadership of the Simons Foundation.

Spergel is a fellow of the American Physical Society, a Legacy Fellow of the American Astronomical Society, a member of the American Philosophical Society, National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and has been awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, the Breakthrough Prize, the Gruber Prize, the Shaw Prize, Sloan Fellowship and the Presidential Young Investigator award. The American Astronomical Society recognized his contributions with its Warner Prize, the Heinemann Prize and his selection as its inaugural Kavli Lecturer. Time Magazine listed Spergel in its 2001 issue as one of America’s top scientists and in its 2012 issue as one of the 25 most influential people in Space. Spergel has served as chair of the NAS Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics, the NAS Space Studies Board, NASA Astrophysics subcommittee, and as a member of the NASA Advisory Council. For his contributions to NASA, he was twice awarded the NASA Exceptional Public Service Award. He received a D. Sc. (Hon) from the American Museum of Natural History.

Spergel was one of the leaders of the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Prove (WMAP), which measured the age, shape and composition of the universe. Spergel served as co- chair of the Roman Space Telescope (formerly, WFIRST) science team. He has played a significant role in designing the coronagraph and in shaping the overall mission.

He has been the primary mentor for over 33 graduate students, 45 postdoctoral fellows    and 60 undergraduates. His mentees are now faculty members at Barcelona, Cambridge, Cardiff, Columbia, Cornell, Cooper Union, Harvard, Max-Planck Institute, NYU, Oxford, Rutgers, UCSB, UCSD, UCL, USC, Texas Tech, U Tokyo, U Toronto and U Washington. His mentorship has been recognized by Princeton’s Presidential Distinguished Teaching Award and the National Society of Black Physicists’ mentorship award.

Spergel is the author of over 400 papers with over 115,000 citations and an h index of 127.

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