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Roger Davies

Philip Wetton Professor of Astrophysics

I am the first holder of Philip Wetton Chair in Astrophysics and a Student of Christ Church. My research interests centre on cosmology and how galaxies form and evolve. I have a longstanding interest in astronomical instruments and telescopes and developed the scientific case for the UK's involvement in the 8m Gemini telescopes project as well as being project scientist for a number of instruments. Since 2014 I have been the founding Director of the Oxford Centre for Astrophysical Surveys which is funded by the Hintze Family Charitable Foundation. (see

I read Physics as an undergraduate at UCL and did a PhD at the Institute of Astronomy and Churchill College, Cambridge. While working in the Unites States I became part of the Seven Samurai collaboration which surveyed the distances and velocities of galaxies, discovering the `Great Attractor’, a concentration of galaxy clusters pulling the Milky Way in the direction of the constellations of Hydra and Centaurus. I became Head of Astronomy at Durham University in 1994. I have pioneered the use of a new class of astronomical spectrograph to measure the masses and ages of galaxies, as well as search for black holes in their nuclei.

I was Head of the Physics Department at Oxford from 2005-10 and Head of Astrophysics from 2011-14. I am a Fellow of UCL and hold an honorary degree from University Claude Bernard in Lyon, France. I was President of the Royal Astronomical Society between 2010 and 2012. I am currently the international advisor to the Australian Astronomical Observatory and serve on the governing Council of the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore. I am President-elect of the European Astronomical Society and will take over as President at the European Week of Astronomy & Space Science in Prague 26th-30th June 2017.

My research aim is to advance our understanding of cosmology and the evolution of galaxies by developing new techniques and instruments. My contributions span cosmology: the distance scale, large scale motions of galaxies and galaxies at high redshift; galaxy evolution: dynamics, stellar populations and galaxy clusters; and telescopes, instruments & techniques.

S02 Astrophysics: from Planets to the Cosmos see:

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