Career Overview

Andreas Albrecht is a leading theoretical cosmologist. He received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1983 where, with Paul Steinhardt, he wrote one of the original papers on “new” or “slow roll” inflation. Slow roll inflation has since become the dominant phenomenological theory of the early Universe and has passed numerous observational tests with flying colors. Deep puzzles remain regarding the theoretical underpinnings of cosmic inflation and Albrecht is a leading figure in this research area. Albrecht's work in the 1990's on observational signatures allowed modern data to rule out a broad category of “active” theories of cosmic structure in favor of the “passive” category (to which inflation belongs).

The discovery of cosmic acceleration (celebrated by the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics and often referred to as “the dark energy”) has been transformative to the field of cosmology. Albrecht is known for his groundbreaking work on dark energy theory and phenomenology, including key contributions on the Dark Energy Task force and related work to determine the best observational probes of cosmic acceleration.

Albrecht is well-known for pioneering work on the arrow of time, the clock ambiguity and the origin of probabilities, all topics that figure prominently in the current search for a more complete theory of the cosmos and also provide links to quantum information science.

Albrecht moved from a Professorship at Imperial College to UC Davis in 1998 to build the cosmology program there. He served as Physics Department Chair 2011-2016, and as inaugural director of the Center for Quantum Mathematics and Physics (QMAP) 2017-2023. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Physical Society, the Institute of Physics and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. His ongoing research program embraces a wide range of challenges posed by our search for a deeper understanding of the Universe.

More information and career reflections can be found in this interview for the American Institute of Physics oral history archive.