Astrophysicist for NASA's James Webb Space Telescope to Give Talk at Dickinson

Portrait of John Mather

John Mather

John Mather will receive Dickinson’s annual Joseph Priestley Award 

by Natalia Fedorczak '24

Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist John Mather will receive Dickinson’s 71st Priestley Award and discuss his work as the senior project scientist for the groundbreaking James Webb Space Telescope (JWST). Mather’s lecture, “Opening the Infrared Treasure Chest With the James Webb Space Telescope,” will take place Tuesday, March 28, at 7 p.m. in the Anita Tuvin Schlechter (ATS) Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public. Masks are optional but welcome. The lecture will be livestreamed.

Mather is senior astrophysicist in the Observational Cosmology Laboratory at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center and senior project scientist on the JWST, NASA’s largest and most powerful space telescope, which was launched in 2021. The telescope, named for a former NASA administrator, is 100 times more powerful than the celebrated Hubble Space Telescope. The JWST’s images have captivated a global audience and shed light on previously unseen corners of the universe. 

Mather’s notable career includes receiving the 2006 Nobel Prize for Physics (with George F. Smoot, UC Berkeley) for precise measurements of cosmic microwave background radiation, the remnant of the Big Bang. Mather has led the JWST teams since the project’s inception in 1995. He’s also served on advisory and working groups for the National Academy of Sciences, NASA, the National Science Foundation and the Center for Astrophysical Research in the Antarctic. Mather is the recipient of more than 50 other awards, including several from the Goddard Space Flight Center and NASA and dozens from international scientific organizations and universities worldwide.  

Dickinson’s Joseph Priestley Award is given annually to a distinguished scientist whose work has contributed to the welfare of humanity. The award is presented in memory of Joseph Priestley, discoverer of oxygen. Past recipients of the award include famed astronomer Carl Sagan, former NASA scientist and climatologist James Hansen and numerous Nobel laureates.

This event is sponsored by the Clarke Forum for Contemporary Issues with support from the Priestley Fund and the Churchill Fund. It is co-sponsored by the departments of biology, chemistry, data analytics, earth sciences, environmental studies, mathematics & computer science, psychology and physics & astronomy.


Published March 20, 2023