An observational astronomer, Alex Filippenko makes frequent use of the 10-meter Keck telescopes, the world’s largest optical and infrared 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. He is one of the world's most highly cited astronomers, and his research accomplishments are documented in over 570 published articles. He is the recipient of several major prizes, including the Richtmyer Memorial Award in 2007. Filippenko was a member of both teams that discovered the accelerating expansion of the universe, propelled by mysterious "dark energy." This discovery 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 the University of California, Berkeley, and has been voted the "best professor" on campus six times. In 2006, he was selected as the Carnegie/CASE Doctoral and Research Universities National Professor of the Year. He has produced three astronomy video courses with The Teaching Company, including a 96-lecture series in 2007. In 2001, he coauthored an award-winning textbook.
Filippenko has appeared in many television documentaries, including most recently The Universe on The History Channel, and he has given over 500 popular talks to a wide range of audiences. He is the recipient of the 2004 Carl Sagan Prize for Science Popularization. In 1979, Filippenko received a BA in physics from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and in 1984, a PhD in astronomy from Caltech. 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--nine and counting so far.