John E. Carlstrom
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Subramanyan Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor, Departments of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Physics; Enrico Fermi Institute; and the College

Department Chair: 2017-present

Education: Ph.D., California/Berkeley, 1988

Phone: (773) 834-0269
Location: ERC 341 (Research Office), ERC 599E (Chair's Office)

Affiliations: Joint Position, Argonne National Laboratory; Enrico Fermi Institute; Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics; Physical Sciences Collegiate Division

Experimental astrophysics and cosmology, observations and new instrumentation.
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Publications: ADS | arXiv | inSPIRE

Research Fields:
Observational cosmology using new instruments to measure the temperature and polarization anisotropy of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation and the Sunyaev-Zeldovich (SZ) effects. Director of the 10 meter South Pole Telescope (SPT) project, which completed the 2500 square degrees SPT-SZ survey in three bands at arc minute resolution, and the SPTpol survey of 500 square degrees in two bands to unprecedented sensitivity. We have now deployed SPT-3G with 16,260 bolometric detectors to make deep polarization maps over 2500 square degrees. In addition to increased precision on cosmological parameters and probing Inflation, the SPT data allows investigations of extensions to the standard model, such as the number and masses of the neutrinos, and the nature of dark energy. Furthermore, the high resolution of the SPT measurements allows us to detect directly the emergence and evolution of structure in the universe through the subtle, small-angular scale distortions they impart on the background, such as gravitational lensing from the mass in the universe and the scattering from ionized gas (the SZ effects).

Through a joint Chicago/Argonne superconducting detector development collaboration, the SPT group bulit the focal plane for SPT-3G, with 16,260 detectors to increase the polarization mapping speed by an order of magnitude over SPTpol. We are now working toward scaling up detector fabrication and testing for the 500,000 detector CMB-S4 project.

I am also working on the CMB-S4, the next generation CMB ground based instrument. I am co-chair of the Interim Collaboration Coordination Committee. For more information see

Member of Research Groups:

Graduate Students
  • Zubair Abdulla (Astronomy and Astrophysics)
  • Daniel Dutcher (Physics)
  • Zhoadi Pan (Physics)
  • Wei Quan (Physics)
  • Joshua Sobrin (Physics)

Past Graduate Students: Laura Mocanu (2017, Astronomy and Astrophysics); Tyler Natoli (2015, Physics); Kyle Story (2015, Physics); Lindsey E. Bleem (2013, Physics); Abigail Crites (2013, Astronomy and Astrophysics); Christopher Greer (2012, Astronomy and Astrophysics); Ryan Keisler (2012, Physics); Ryan Hennessy (2011, Astronomy and Astrophysics); Joaquin Vieira (2009, Physics); Matthew Sharp (2008, Physics); Samuel LaRoque (2005, Astronomy and Astrophysics); Daisuke Nagai (2005, Astronomy and Astrophysics); Kovac John (2004, Physics); Nils W. Halverson (2002, Physics); Erik D. Reese (2001, Astronomy and Astrophysics); Laura Grego (2000, Physics)

Teaching Courses
  • [ASTR 30600] Radiation Measurements in Astrophysics: 2017 - 2018 (Spring)

Past courses:
  • [ASTR 24200] The Physical Universe: 2005 - 2006 (Winter); 2004 - 2005 (Winter)
  • [ASTR 30600] Radiation Measurements in Astrophysics: 2016 - 2017 (Spring); 2014 - 2015 (Spring)
  • [PHSC 12000] Origin of the Universe and How We Know: 2010 - 2011 (Spring); 2008 - 2009 (Spring)

Department Committees

Past Department Committees:
  • Website: 2016 - 2017
  • Appointments: 2016 - 2017 (Chair) | 2015 - 2016 (Chair)
  • Search Committee: 2014 - 2015
  • Brinson Lectureship: 2014 - 2015 (Former Chair) | 2013 - 2014 (Chair)
  • Budget and Policy: 2016 - 2017 | 2015 - 2016 | 2014 - 2015 | 2013 - 2014
  • Awards: 2012 - 2013
  • Magellan Time Allocation: 2012 - 2013 | 2011 - 2012

Department News & Highlights