EDMUND BERTSCHINGER, Professor of Physics; Head, Department of Physics

Professor of Physics

EMAIL: edbert@mit.edu

PHONE: (617) 324-7319

ASSISTANT: Shauna Bush-Fenty (617) 715-2066


Office of the Provost
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
77 Massachusetts Avenue, Bldg. 4-250
Cambridge, MA 02139



Area(s) of Physics:

Theoretical astrophysics, gravitation and cosmology

In The News

Career History

  • S.B., Physics, California Institute of Technology, 1979
  • Ph.D., Physics, Princeton University, 1984
  • Research Associate, University of Virginia, 1983-85
  • Miller Research Fellow, University of California at Berkeley, 1985-86
  • Assistant Professor, MIT Physics, 1986-1991
  • Associate Professor, MIT Physics, 1991-1996
  • Professor, MIT Physics, 1996-Present
  • Astrophysics Division Head, 2002-2007
  • Department Head, Physics, 2007-2013
  • Institute Community and Equity Officer, MIT, 2013-2018

Awards and Honors

  • 2015 - Committed to Caring Award, MIT Office of the Dean for Graduate Education
  • 2015 - American Association for the Advancement of Science Fellow
  • 2013 - Outstanding Advocacy Award, Council for the Advancement of Black Students, MIT
  • 2013 - Outstanding Freshman Advisor Award, MIT
  • 2012 - Outstanding MAEStro Award from MAES-Latinos in Engineering and Science for "...proactive and supporting efforts to increase the number of Latino students successfully completing high school and pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees.
  • 2012 - Luis Walter Alvarez Award for the Advancement of Latinos in Science, SACNAS-SHPE-MAES STEM Consortium
  • 2012 - Honorary Member, MIT Alumni Association
  • 2012 - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award, MIT
  • 2007 - Guggenheim Fellowship
  • 2002 - Buechner Teaching Prize, MIT Physics Department
  • 1996 - American Physical Society Fellow
  • 1992 - Helen B. Warner Prize, American Astronomical Society
  • 1990-92 - Class of 1956 Career Development Professor of Physics, MIT
  • 1988-90 - Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship

Research, Teaching and Administrative Interests

Ed Bertschinger is Professor of Physics at MIT. He is a theoretical astrophysicist whose work focuses on cosmology, gravitation, and relativistic astrophysics. As a member of the MIT Kavli Institute for Astrophysics and Space Research, he leads a research program studying dark energy and dark matter. He and his research students (from high school to postdoctoral) investigate the formation of cosmic structure after the big bang, the physics of dark matter both in the early universe and in forming galaxies, the physics of gravitation in general relativity and alternative theories, and the physical processes governing matter and radiation close to black holes. His group uses a combination of analytical, computational, and statistical methods.

Professor Bertschinger is passionate about education. He enjoys teaching a wide range of undergraduate and graduate classes in general physics, relativity and cosmology. In 2002, he received the Physics Department’s Buechner Teaching Prize for his undergraduate and graduate classes in general relativity. He also loves mentoring research students. His students at the high school and undergraduate level have won national prizes for their work, including First Prize in the Intel Science Talent Search. His former PhD students have been appointed to the faculties of Harvard, Princeton, UC Berkeley, Columbia, the Institute for Advanced Study, and other fine organizations.

As Physics Department Head from 2007-2013, Ed Bertschinger set a goal to make MIT not only the top-ranked university for science and engineering, but also to make it one of the best places to work and study for everyone. He feels strongly that more must be done to increase diversity and inclusion within the university and the profession. Excellence demands searching from the widest possible sources to draw talent; that talent must then be nurtured with effective mentoring and research support to achieve its full potential. He is co-chair of both the MIT Committee on Race and Diversity and the Faculty Advisory Committee of the Office of Minority Education and is recipient of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award. In 2011 he chaired the organizing committee of the MIT150 Symposium "Leaders in Science and Engineering: The Women of MIT".

Biographical Sketch

Professor Bertschinger received his BS in physics from Caltech in 1979 and his PhD in Astrophysical Sciences from Princeton University in 1984. Following postdoctoral positions at the University of Virginia and at UC Berkeley, he joined the MIT faculty in 1986. From 2002-2007 he served as Astrophysics Division Head before becoming Physics Department Head. He is a recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, and Helen B. Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society.

Selected Publications

  • E. Bertschinger, On the Growth of Perturbations as a Test of Dark Energy and Gravity, Astrophysical Journal, 648, 797 (2006).
  • J. D. Schnittman & E. Bertschinger, A Model for High Frequency Quasi-periodic Oscillations from Accreting Black Holes, Astrophysical Journal, 606, 1098 (2004).
  • E. Bertschinger, Cosmological Perturbation Theory and Structure Formation, in Proc. Cosmology 2000, ed. M. C. Bento, O. Bertolami, and L. Teodoro (2000).
  • E. Bertschinger, Simulations of Structure Formation in the Universe, Annual Reviews of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 36, 599 (1998).
  • E. Bertschinger, Cosmological Dynamics, in Cosmology and Large Scale Structure, proc. Les Houches Summer School, Session LX, ed. R. Schaeffer, J. Silk, M. Spiro, and J. Zinn-Justin (Amsterdam: Elsevier Science), 273 (1996).
  • C.-P. Ma & E. Bertschinger, Cosmological Perturbation Theory in the Synchronous and Conformal Newtonian Gauges, Astrophysical Journal, 455, 7 (1995).
  • E. Bertschinger & A. Dekel, Recovering the Full Velocity and Density Fields from Large-Scale Redshift-Distance Samples, Astrophysical Journal, 336, L5 (1989).

Last updated on August 9, 2018 12:08 PM