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Internationally renowned physicist appointed as executive director of Perimeter Institute

Waterloo, ON – Dr Neil Turok has been appointed to the position of executive director of the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics (PI). The appointment is effective on October 1.

Mike Lazaridis, the founder of Perimeter Institute and chairman of the board, personally led the successful search to fill the position and says, “We are extremely pleased to welcome professor Turok to Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. He is a world-renowned scientist of the highest calibre and provides tremendous research and leadership experience. He is ideally suited to build upon Perimeter Institute’s considerable international achievements to date in scientific research and educational outreach as we move forward in our next, ambitious phase of development.”

Professor Stephen Hawking, the internationally acclaimed scientist at the University of Cambridge and a close colleague of Dr Turok, says, “Neil Turok will make an excellent Director of the Perimeter Institute which has established itself as a world leading center of research in theoretical physics. He has been a colleague of mine for a number of years and I have been very impressed by his insight and originality. The combination of Neil and PI is brilliant and holds great promise for the future.”

Dr Turok currently holds the chair of mathematical physics at Cambridge University, where he is also the director of the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology. He earned his PhD at Imperial College and, in 1994, became a professor of physics at Princeton University. Among his many honours, he was awarded the 1992 James Clerk Maxwell medal of the U.K. Institute of Physics.

Dr Turok has worked in a number of areas of theoretical physics and cosmology, focusing on observational tests of fundamental physics. In the early 1990s, his group showed how the polarization and temperature anisotropies of the cosmic background radiation would be correlated, a prediction which has been confirmed in detail by recent precision measurements. The team also developed a key test for the presence of the cosmological constant, also recently confirmed.

With Stephen Hawking, he later developed the Hawking-Turok instanton solutions describing the birth of inflationary universes.

Most recently, with Paul Steinhardt at Princeton, he has been developing a cyclic model for cosmology, according to which the big bang is explained as a collision between two “brane-worlds” in M-theory. In 2006, Steinhardt and Turok showed how the model naturally allowed the cosmological constant to relax to very small values, consistent with current observations.