Nobel Laureate, JOHN MATHER – Plenary Speaker at the Opening Session 

Dr. John C. Mather is a Senior Astrophysicist and he is the Senior Project Scientist for the James Webb Space Telescope at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD.  His research centers on infrared astronomy and cosmology.  As an NRC postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (New York City), he led the proposal efforts for the Cosmic Background Explorer (74-76), and came to GSFC to be the Study Scientist (76-88), Project Scientist (88-98), and the Principal Investigator for the Far IR Absolute Spectrophotometer (FIRAS) on COBE.  With the COBE team, he showed that the cosmic microwave background radiation has a blackbody spectrum within 50 parts per million, confirming the expanding universe model (aka the Big Bang Theory) to extraordinary accuracy, and initiating the study of cosmology as a precision science.  Dr. Mather is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Nobel Prize in Physics (2006) with George Smoot, for the COBE work, and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal (2007).  Dr. Mather is now working with teams and committees to develop plans for a future great telescope capable of observing signs of life on planets orbiting other stars.