Meet Our Physicists

Michael S. Turner

Michael Turner

Michael S. Turner is a Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and the Rauner Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago, where he was the Director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics for a decade. He is a past-President of the American Physical Society and former Assistant Director for the Mathematical and Physical Sciences of the National Science Foundation. He also served as the Senior Strategic Advisor at the Kavli Foundation from 2019 to 2022. 

Born in Los Angeles, CA, Turner received his B.S. from the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and his Ph.D. from Stanford (physics). He is a theoretical astrophysicist whose 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.

Turner 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 in the American Philosophical Society in 2017.

Turner began coming to the Aspen Center for Physics in 1979 and has participated in more than 40 summer programs. His service to the Center includes Scientific Secretary, Treasurer, Vice-president, President and Chair of the Board.

Michael Turner

Positions Held

Trustee, 1984 – 1997
Secretary, 1984 – 1985
Asst Treasurer, 1985 – 1988
Treasurer, 1988 – 1989
Vice President, 1988 – 1989
President, 1989 – 1993
General Member, 1990 – 2003
Chair of the Board, 2009 – 2012
Honorary Trustee, 2002 – current

Related Content

Astrophysics: The Middle Years

By Michael S. Turner

I came to Aspen for the first time in 1979. I was a young postdoc attending the NASA astrophysics workshop, that year entitled Stellar Collapse and Neutrino Physics. By then, astrophysics was a well-established part of the summer program and many astrophysicists attended on a regular basis,

President Mike Turner at the Aspen Center for Physics 50th Anniversary

Presidential Essay from Mike Turner

By Michael S. Turner

My presidency was a transitional one, linking the “Founders' era” to the “Modern era.” I was the first “young Turk” President, by which I mean one whose roots didn't trace to the Center's Founders and one who railed against the old boys.