An observational astronomer, Alex Filippenko makes frequent use of the 10-meter Keck telescopes and the Hubble space telescope. His primary areas of research are exploding stars, active galaxies, black holes, gamma-ray bursts, and the expansion of the universe. His research accomplishments, documented in over 530 published articles, have been recognized by several major prizes, including the Richtmyer Memorial Award (2007), and he is one of the world's most highly cited astronomers. He was a member of both teams that discovered the accelerating expansion of the universe, propelled by mysterious "dark energy." This was voted the top "Science Breakthrough of 1998" by Science magazine and the teams received the 2007 Gruber Cosmology Prize.
Filippenko has won the highest teaching awards at UC Berkeley and has been voted the "Best Professor" on campus five times. In 2006 he was selected as the Carnegie/CASE Doctoral and Research Universities National Professor of the Year. He has appeared in many TV documentaries and has given roughly 500 popular talks. He has produced three astronomy video courses with The Teaching Company, and in 2001 he coauthored an award-winning textbook. He is the recipient of the 2004 Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization.
He received his BA in physics from UC Santa Barbara in 1979 and his PhD in astronomy from Caltech in 1984. He joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1986. An avid tennis player, skier, and hiker, Filippenko also enjoys world travel, and he is addicted to experiencing total solar eclipses.