Dr. Michael S. Turner

Senior Strategic Advisor

Michael S. Turner, Ph.D., is a senior strategic advisor at The Kavli Foundation and the Bruce V. & Diana M. Rauner Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago. He is the past director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics at UChicago, which he helped to establish, and a past-president of the American Physical Society, the 55,000-member organization of physicists. 

Dr. Turner was born in Los Angeles, CA, and attended public schools there; he received his B.S. from Caltech (1971), his M.S. (1973) and Ph.D. (1978) from Stanford (all in physics). He helped to pioneer the interdisciplinary field of particle astrophysics and cosmology, and with Edward Kolb initiated the Fermilab astrophysics program which today accounts for about 10% of the lab’s activities today. He led the National Academy study Quarks to the Cosmos that laid out the strategic vision for the field.  

Dr. Turner’s scholarly contributions include predicting cosmic acceleration and coining the term dark energy, showing how quantum fluctuations evolved into the seed perturbations for galaxies during cosmic inflation, and several key ideas that led to the cold dark matter theory of structure formation. His honors include: Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society, the Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society, the Klopsted Award of the American Association of Physics Teachers, the Heineman Prize (with Kolb) of the AAS and American Institute of Physics, the 2011 Darwin Lecture of the Royal Astronomical Society, the 2013 Ryerson Lecture at UChicago and the 2018 Oppenheimer Lecture at University of California, Berkeley. He is a Fellow of the American Astronomical Society, the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences in 1997 and the American Philosophical Society in 2017. Dr. Turner was awarded an honorary D.Sc. from Michigan State University in 2005 and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Caltech in 2006. 

His twenty-plus former Ph.D. students hold faculty positions at leading universities around the country (e.g., Chicago, Caltech, University of Michigan), at national laboratories (Fermilab, JPL, Argonne) and on Wall Street. Dr. Turner’s national service includes membership on more than 10 NRC boards and committees, the Senior Editorial Board of Science Magazine, Chairmanship of the OECD Global Science Forum’s Astroparticle Physics International Forum, a member of the board of directors of the Fermi Research Alliance, member of the NASA Advisory Council, Secretary, the Council of the National Academy of Sciences, and the Chair of the Board of ScienceCounts, a 501(c)3 organization that promotes the awareness and support of science. 

Dr. Turner’s previous positions include Scientist at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (from 1983 to 1997), Assistant Director for the Mathematical and Physical Sciences of the National Science Foundation (2003 to 2006), Chief Scientist at Argonne National Laboratory (2006 to 2008), Chair of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at UChicago (1997 to 2003), and President (1989 to 1994) and Chairman of the Board (2009 to 2012) of the Aspen Center for Physics.