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Prof. Neil Turok

  • Edinburgh University
Prof. Turok (PhD Imperial College London, 1983) was recently appointed as the Inaugural Higgs Chair by the University of Edinburgh. 

He held the Mike and Ophelia Lazaridis Niels Bohr Chair in Theoretical Physics at Perimeter Institute. He was Perimeter’s Director from 2008 to 2019, in recognition of which he was awarded the title of Director Emeritus. Previously, he was Professor of Physics at Princeton University and Chair of Mathematical Physics at the University of Cambridge.

Born in South Africa, Turok founded AIMS in Cape Town in 2003. AIMS has since expanded to a network of five centres – in South Africa, Senegal, Ghana, Cameroon, and Rwanda – and has become Africa’s most renowned institution for postgraduate training in mathematical science. For his scientific discoveries and his work founding and developing AIMS, Prof. Turok was awarded a TED Prize in 2008. He has also been recognized with awards from the World Summit on Innovation and Entrepreneurship (WSIE) and the World Innovation Summit on Education (WISE). In 2016 he was named the Gerald Whitrow Lecturer by the Royal Astronomical Society and was also awarded the John Torrence Tate Medal for InternationalLeadership in Physics by the American Institute of Physics. In the same year, he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Physics in the UK and was awarded the John Wheatley Award from the American Physical Society for his work with AIMS.

Prof. Turok has made numerous contributions to theoretical physics and cosmology. His work is highly original and addresses some of physics’ most profound problems, such as the quantum mechanical formulation of gravity and the nature and origin of large-scale structure, dark energy and dark matter. Much of Turok’s theoretical work connects directly to experiment and observation. He predicted correlations between polarisation and temperature anisotropies of the cosmic background radiation, confirmed by the WMAP and Planck satellites. He helped verify the existence of dark energy through an independent test involving the correlation between galaxies and the cosmic microwave background.

Among his many honours, Turok was awarded Sloan and Packard Fellowships and the James Clerk Maxwell medal of the Institute of Physics (UK). He is a Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR) Fellow in Cosmology and Gravity and a Senior Fellow of Massey College in the University ofToronto. In 2012, Turok was selected to deliver the CBC Massey Lectures, broadcast across Canada. The lectures were published as The Universe Within, a bestseller which won the 2013 Lane Anderson award, Canada’s top prize for popular science writing. In 2018, Turok was named an Officer of theOrder of Canada (Honorary) in recognition of his “substantial contributions as a scientist to the field of theoretical physics and cosmology.”

Prof. Turok is the Chair of the AIMS Trust.

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