Joel R. Primack



Present Position

Distinguished Professor of Physics Emeritus
University of California - Santa Cruz


Chapter Affiliation

University of California - Santa Cruz

Joel_R_Primack240x300After studying Physics at Princeton (AB 1966) and at Stanford (PhD 1970), Dr. Primack was a Junior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows (1970-73).  He has been on the UCSC Physics faculty since 1973, and has taught at every level from introductory and honors undergraduate courses through advanced graduate courses on quantum field theory and cosmology.  His early research was on elementary particle physics, helping to create what is now called the “Standard Model.” 

Since the late 1970s he has worked mainly on the physics of the universe. He is one of the main authors of the Cold Dark Matter theory, which is the basis of the now-standard theory of the formation and evolution of structure in the universe, from the cosmic background radiation to galaxies. He has also become a leader in using supercomputers to model the large-scale structure of the universe and the evolution of galaxies and comparing the results to observations.  He was made a fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) in 1988 “for pioneering contributions to gauge theory and cosmology.”  He is an author of more than 200 refereed articles in scientific journals,and has authored many articles in magazines including IEEE Spectrum, Scientific American, Science, and  Sky & Telescope.  

In 2016 he received the APS Leo Szilard Lectureship Award, which is for outstanding accomplishments in promoting the use of physics for the benefit of society.