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Meet the People at the BHI

Priyamvada Natarajan

Joseph S. and Sophia S. Fruton Professor of Astronomy & Physics
Departments of Astronomy & Physics, Yale; Black Hole Initiative, Harvard
Astronomy, History of Science


With undergraduate degrees in Physics and Mathematics and graduate study in the history and philosophy of science from the Program in Science, Technology & Society at M.I.T, Natarajan completed her Ph.D. at the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge University where she held the Isaac Newton studentship and was a fellow of Trinity College. She is on the faculty at Yale where she holds the inaugural Joseph S. and Sophia S. Fruton professorship, with joint appointments in the Departments of Astronomy & Physics. Natarajan is the current Chair of the Astronomy Department and also serves as the Director of Yale’s flagship inter-disciplinary Franke Program in Science and the Humanities. Her seminal scientific contributions have been recognized with multiple awards and honors.

Research Interests

Natarajan’s research interests in black hole physics are focused on the formation, fueling, and feedback from supermassive black holes over cosmic time. She develops empirically motivated simulations and models for understanding the growth and evolution of black hole populations within the larger cosmological context. Of particular interest are astrophysical processes that permit probing the deeper correlation with their host galaxies and parent dark matter halos, that drive their observed co-evolution.  A key goal is to integrate these fundamental physical processes that operate over a range of scales from sub-pc to Mpc, to probe the physics of accretion; angular momentum transfer, and the alignment of spins and predict their multi-messenger observational signatures.

Featured Research

Could primordial black holes seed supermassive black holes and account for all of dark matter?

More From Priya

Personal website
Co-evolution of black holes and their host galaxies
Primordial Black Holes and the high redshift  LCDM Universe
Prediction and Observational verification of the Sunyaev-Zeldovich imprint of quasar outflows
The Puzzle of the First Black Holes

Honorary Affiliate: Stephen Hawking

In Memoriam

Former Honorary Affiliate

Dennis Stanton Avery and Sally Tsui Wong-Avery Director of Research, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, University of Cambridge Physics

Learn More About Stephen