MacArthur Fellows Program

Margaret Joan Geller

Astrophysicist | Class of 1990

Cambridge, Massachusetts
43 at time of award
Published August 1, 1990

About Margaret's Work

Margaret Geller is an astrophysicist whose studies of the spatial distribution of galaxies give us a new understanding of the structure of the universe.

Geller has led a comprehensive study of the three-dimensional distribution of galaxies in the nearby universe.  She and her colleagues have provided convincing evidence of a heterogeneous galaxy distribution not previously predicted by cosmological theory; the pattern of clustering offers important clues regarding mechanisms of galaxy formation and the emergence of asymmetry in the early universe.  Her more recent projects are directed toward analyzing the development of our Milky Way galaxy in the larger context of the history of the cosmos, as well as mapping the distribution of the mysterious, ubiquitous dark matter that pervades the universe.


Geller is a senior scientist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and a research scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.  She has made films about science and her work, including Where the Galaxies Are (1991) and So Many Galaxies...So Little Time (1992).

Geller received a B.A. (1970) from the University of California, Berkeley, and an M.A. (1972) and a Ph.D. (1975) from Princeton University.

Recent Updates

Margaret Geller is currently making a deeper map of the galaxy distribution called HectoMAP. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and received the Magellanic Premium (2008), the James Craig Watson Medal (2010), the Russell Lectureship (2010), the Lilienfeld Prize of the American Physical Society (2012), and the Schwarzschild Medal (2014) of the German Astronomical Society. She is a Library Lion of the New York Public Library (1997) and has received six honorary degrees, including one from Dartmouth College (2014).

Updated July 2015

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