Priyamvada Natarajan

Professor of Astronomy and of Physics, Yale University

Priyamvada Natarajan’s research is focused on exotica in the Universe—dark matter, dark energy and black holes. She is noted for her key contributions to two of the most challenging problems in cosmology:  mapping the distribution of dark matter and tracing the growth history of black holes. Her work using gravitational lensing has provided a deeper understanding of the granularity of dark matter in clusters of galaxies and offers a novel way to unravel the nature of dark matter. Natarajan also works on the assembly and accretion history of black holes. Deeply invested in the public dissemination of science, she serves on the Advisory Board of NOVA ScienceNow and is a fervent proponent of numerical literacy. She is also a published poet. 

A professor in the Departments of Astronomy and Physics at Yale University, Priyamvada is a strong supporter of gender equity in the workplace, and was the Chair of the Women’s Faculty Forum at Yale from 2011-2013. She also serves on the Foundation Board of the Edge Certification Foundation ( based in Switzerland. She also holds the Sophie and Tycho Brahe Professorship at the Dark Center, Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, Denmark and an Honorary Professorship at the University of Delhi, India.

Priyamvada has undergraduate degrees in Physics and Mathematics from MIT.  She is also interested in the history and philosophy of science as well as technology and public policy and was enrolled in the MIT Program in Science, Technology & Society, where she was awarded a Master’s Degree (S.M.), and the MIT Program in Technology and Public Policy.  She did her graduate work in theoretical astrophysics at the Institute of Astronomy, University of Cambridge in England, where she was a member of Trinity College and was elected to a Title A Research Fellowship. She was the first woman in Astrophysics to be elected a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.

Participant In:

Women and Science

Saturday, April 26, 2014
2:30-4:30 pm

Past Event

An ancient Egyptian hieroglyph at Saqqara declared Merit-Ptah as “the Chief Physician.” 4700 years after her achievement, we ask: How are women in science faring? It is a well-documented phenomenon that for all STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects, the gender gap widens in the progression from undergraduate study, through graduate and post-doctoral work,… read more »

Knowledge and Limitations

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Past Event

What do we know about the universe and how do we know it? As John Locke would ask, what are the extent and limitations of human knowledge? Is our understanding of the laws of nature bound by limits on what the mind can grasp, or can formulate linguistically, or are there inherent limitations of physical… read more »

The Helix Center is pleased to announce receipt of a grant from the John Templeton Foundation in support of a series of fourteen roundtables addressing big questions in the physical, natural, and biological sciences and the humanities. The topics are: Knowledge and Limitations; The Span of Infinity; Complexity and Emergence; The Search for Immortality;  The Sublime Experience; The Meditative State; The… read more »