Nicholas Suntzeff

Profile Updated: June 4, 2022
Nicholas Suntzeff
Residing In: College Station, TX USA
Homepage: View Website
Occupation: University Distinguished Professor
Children: Larissa Thais Suntzeff, 1990
Yes! Attending Reunion
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After I left Redwood, I went to Stanford until '74 and majored in math, and then Lick Observatory (UC Santa Cruz) where got my PhD in '80 in astronomy. My first job was as a postdoc at the Mt. Wilson and Palomar Observatories in Pasadena before moving to La Serena Chile to work as a research astronomer in '86. I lived in Chile for over 20 years working at the US National Optical Observatory, ending up as the Director for Science for the US National Observatories in the US and Chile.

In '06, I moved to Texas A&M University to start an astronomy department in this public university of 70,000 students. To retain some sanity living here in East Texas, in '10 I went on leave in Washington DC working at the Dept of State as a National Academy Senior Science Fellow in the Office of Human Rights where I was a Humanitarian Affairs Officer. In 2012 I returned to my job at A&M. I was elected a University Distinguished Professor in 2013.

My research is in cosmology. In 1994 my group discovered the first way to measure precise distances to the farthest galaxies, using exploding stars which can be seen 90% of the way to the edge of the Universe. We were able to measure the most accurate value of the expansion of the Universe - the "Hubble constant." In 1998, another group I started discovered that the Universe is speeding up its expansion and not slowing down. This was an effect predicted by Einstein in 1917 as part of his theories of relativity, who never really took it seriously but never discounted that it could exist. It is now called Dark Energy, and makes up 73% of the entire Universe. We have no idea what physics is causing it, and it remains the biggest mystery in the physical sciences. Strangely we can only see 0.5% of the Universe and the rest is darkness.

On Oct 4, 2011 the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded for our discovery of the acceleration of the Universe to two of my collaborators Brian Schmidt and Adam Riess.

I have one daughter, Larissa, who graduated from Northwestern University in Evanston IL. She majored in International Relations and Spanish.

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Nicholas Suntzeff has left an In Memory comment for Leisbet VanDerHoven.
Aug
10
Aug 10, 2022 at 6:05 PM

Tragically, her brother Jan van der Hoeven died suddenly this year, 2022.  He was two years ahead of us at Redwood. He lived in Holland with his wife, Aujke Beenhakker, and two sons, Eric and Joost. Jan would come back to Marin almost every year to enjoy the outdoors. 

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03
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Posted: Jun 03, 2022 at 11:50 PM
Texas A&M University, 2009