Meet Our Physicists

Andrea Ghez

Andrea Ghez, photo by Annette Buhl

Andrea M. Ghez, professor of Physics & Astronomy and Lauren B. Leichtman & Arthur E. Levine chair in Astrophysics, is one of the world’s leading experts in observational astrophysics and heads UCLA’s Galactic Center Group. Best known for her ground-breaking work on the center of our Galaxy, which has led to the best evidence to date for the existence of supermassive black holes, she has received numerous honors and awards including the Nobel Prize in 2020. She became the fourth woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics, sharing one half of the prize with Reinhard Genzel (the other half of the prize being awarded to Roger Penrose). The Nobel Prize was awarded to Ghez and Genzel for their independent discovery of a supermassive compact object, now generally recognized to be a black hole, in the Milky Way’s galactic center, the Crafoord Prize in Astronomy from the Royal Swedish Academy of Science (she is the first woman to receive a Crafoord prize in any field), Bakerian Medal from the Royal Society of London, a MacArthur Fellowship, election to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society.

Ghez’s work on the orbits of stars at the center of the Milky Way has opened a new approach to studying black holes. Her group is currently focused on using this approach to understand the physics of gravity near a black hole, as well as the role black holes play in the formation and evolution of galaxies. Advances in high resolution imaging technology enabled Ghez’s research and her group continues to push the frontiers of these technologies.

Ghez serves on leadership committees for the W. M. Keck Observatory, and the Thirty Meter Telescope. She is also committed to communicating science to the general public, and inspiring young girls to pursue scientific studies. For this reason, Ghez’s work can be found in many public outlets including TED, NOVA’s “Monster of the Milky Way,” Discovery’s “Swallowed by a Black Hole,” and Griffith Observatory.

Ghez earned her B.S. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1987, and her Ph.D. from Caltech in 1992. She has been on the faculty at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) since 1994.

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Andrea Ghez, photo by Annette Buhl

Positions Held

General Member, 2004 – 2008 & 2018 – current


Nobel Prize in Physics, 2020