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Prof. Dr. Reinhard Genzel

Prof. Dr. Reinhard Genzel is one of the directors at MPE, Honorary Professor of Physics at the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich (since 1989). At the University of California, Berkeley he was a Full Professor (25%) at the Department of Physics and Astronomy from 1998-2016. In 2017 he became Professor of the Graduate School at UC Berkeley.

He received his Ph.D. in physics and astronomy in 1978 at the University of Bonn with a thesis in radio astronomy prepared at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy at Bonn. During the years 1978-80 he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, MA, focusing on radio very long baseline interferometry and mid-infrared studies of Galactic star forming regions. From 1980-1982 he was a Miller Fellow at the University of Berkeley working on far-infrared spectroscopy. From 1981-1985 Reinhard Genzel was Associate Professor of Physics and Associate Research Astronomer at Space Sciences Laboratory (1981–1985) then he became a Full Professor of Physics at UC Berkeley (1985–1986), doing research in infrared and submillimeter astrophysics and studies of the Interstellar Medium.

In 1986 he was appointed Director at MPE where he and his group have been carrying out a program of studying the Galactic Center, active galactic nuclei and star formation in galaxies at high-redshift with state of the art infrared instruments developed at the Institute.

For his research, Prof. Genzel received many honours and awards including Otto Hahn Medal of the Max-Planck Society (1980), Miller Fellowship (University of California, Berkeley 1980), Presidential Young Investigators Award (1984), Fellow of the American Physical Society (1985), Newton Lacy Pierce Prize of the American Astronomical Society (1986), Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Prize of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft DFG (German Research Association) (1990), de Vaucouleurs Medal of the University of Texas (2000), Janssen Prize of the SociÈtÈ Astronomique de France (2000), Stern-Gerlach-Medal of the German Society of Physics (2003), Balzan Prize for ‘Infrared Astronomy’, Switzerland (2003), Petrie Prize, Canadian Astronomical Society (2005), Einstein Medal of the Albert-Einstein-Gesellschaft AEG (Albert Einstein Society), Bern, Switzerland (2007), Shaw Prize of The Shaw Prize Foundation, Hong Kong (2008), Premio Galileo, Fondazione Premio Galileo 2000, Italy (2009), Honorary Doctorate (Dr.h.c.), Leiden University, Netherlands (2010), Karl Schwarzschild Medal (2011), Crafoord Prize in Astronomy (2012) and Tycho Brahe Prize (2012), Herschel Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (2014), Great Cross of Merit (with Star) of Germany (2014), Honorary Doctorate (Dr.h.c.), Paris Observatory OPSPM (2014), and the Harvey Prize in Science and Technology, Technion Israel Institute of Technology (2014).

Nobel Prize in Physics, jointly with Andrea Ghez, for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy (2020).

He is a member of the European Academy of Sciences, the German Academy of Natural Sciences Leopoldina, the Bavarian Academy of Sciences. He is also a Foreign Member/Foreign Corresponding Member/Associate of the Academy of Sciences of France, the US National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Spanish Academy, and the Royal Society of London. He is also Member of the Order Pour Le Merite for Science and Arts of the Republic of Germany.

Research interests:

  • Astrophysics of galactic nuclei
  • Star formation and dynamics of galaxies
  • Massive Black holes
  • Experimental infrared, submillimeter, and millimeter astronomy


Contact Address:

Prof. Dr. Reinhard Genzel
Max-Planck-Institut für extraterrestrische Physik
P.O. Box 1312
D-85741 Garching, Germany

E-Mail: genzel @

Fax: +49-89-30000-3601