Roger Davies

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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. In the 1990s I developed the scientific case for the UK's involvement in the 8m Gemini telescopes project and since then I have been 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 United 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 moved to Oxford in 1988 to lead the team set up to build a UK 8m telescope that ultimately resulted in our membership of the Gemini Obsrevatory. I became Head of Astronomy at Durham University in 1994, returning to Oxford to the Wetton Chair in 2002. 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 have been President of the European Astronomical Society since the European Week of Astronomy & Space Science in Prague in 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.

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