Astrophysicist Mordecai-Mark Mac Low Receives Humboldt Prize main content.

Astrophysicist Mordecai-Mark Mac Low Receives Humboldt Prize

by AMNH on

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Mordecai-Mark Mac Low, a curator in the American Museum of Natural History’s Department of Astrophysics, has received a Humboldt Research Prize. 

This prestigious award is granted by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to researchers “whose fundamental discoveries, new theories, or insights have had a significant impact on their own discipline and who are expected to continue producing cutting-edge achievements in the future.” 

The Humboldt Research Prize enables winners to participate in long-term projects at German research institutions. 


Mordecai Mac Low
Curator, Department of Astrophysics, Division of Physical Sciences, Computational Sciences 
© AMNH/D.Finnin 

Through the Humboldt award, Mac Low will work, for the next three years, with astronomer Ralf Klessen at the Institute of Theoretical Astrophysics at the Center for Astronomy of Heidelberg University to investigate fundamental questions in astronomy. 

Mac Low is a leading expert on the formation of planets, stars, and galaxies, and of the structure of interstellar gas. Working with students and colleagues, the astrophysicist runs supercomputer simulations at multiple physical scales to attack the question of why stars form from interstellar gas in some parts of galaxies but not others. In Heidelberg, he will focus on including the effects of supernova explosions on the dynamics of the star-forming gas.  

“This prize provides a great opportunity to deepen the extensive collaboration in astrophysics between the University of Heidelberg and the Museum, which has now lasted for almost a decade and involved many scientists on both sides,” Mac Low said.

Mac Low is a professor at the Museum’s Richard Gilder Graduate School and an adjunct professor at Columbia University, as well as a research professor at Drexel University. In 2013­–2014, he served as vice-chair of the federal Astronomy & Astrophysics Advisory Committee. 

Before joining the Museum in 1999, Mac Low was a scientist at the Max Planck Institute of Astronomy, in Heidelberg, and held postdoctoral positions at the University of Chicago and at NASA’s Ames Research Center, in California. Mac Low received an A.B. in physics from Princeton University in 1983 and an M.A. degree and a doctorate in physics from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1985 and 1989, respectively. 

Learn more about Mac Low