Astrophysicist Priyamvada Natarajan’s talk unveils dark side of the universe May 2

RIT Astrophysical Sciences and Technology Colloquium is free and open to the public

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Priyamvada Natarajan

A leading astrophysicist whose research maps dark matter in galaxy clusters will visit Rochester Institute of Technology next week as part of the Astrophysical Sciences and Technology Colloquium series.

Priyamvada Natarajan, professor of astronomy and physics at Yale University, will present “Unveiling the Dark Side of the Universe,” from 4 to 5 p.m. on May 2 in Carlson Hall, room 1275.

Natarajan is a theoretical astrophysicist interested in cosmology, gravitational lensing and black hole physics. Her research involves mapping the detailed distribution of dark matter in the universe, exploiting the bending of light from distant galaxies. Natarajan is a fellow of the American Physical Society. She is a past recipient of a Guggenheim and Radcliffe fellowships.

Natarajan is the author of Mapping the Heavens: The Radical Scientific Ideas that Reveal the Cosmos, published this month by Yale University Press.

“Dark matter and dark energy, the enigmatic dominant constituents of our universe shape the properties of structures,” Natarajan said. “However, their essential nature remains unknown. Gravitational lensing, the bending of light by matter predicted by Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, offers a powerful probe of both dark matter and dark energy.”

In her talk, Natarajan will present a status report of recent progress and new results from using clusters of galaxies as gravitational lenses as viewed by the Hubble Space Telescope.

“Priya Natarajan is a one of the preeminent cosmologists in our field,” said Sukanya Chakrabarti, assistant professor in RIT’s School of Physics and Astronomy and the colloquium coordinator. “Her work has a lot of synergy and overlap with researchers at the Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation. She has also done a lot of work in promoting diversity,”

Prior to her lecture, Natarajan will meet with junior faculty women at RIT during an AdvanceRIT event. She will lead a round-table discussion at 10:30 a.m. in the Student Alumni Union, Clark A, to discuss the needs of research-focused female faculty.

“We’re proud to host Dr. Priya Natarajan and hear her insights on the mysteries of the dark universe,” said Manuela Campanelli, director of RIT’s Center for Computational Relativity and Gravitation. “Dr. Natarajan is an inspiring role model for many young women scientists as they push through boundaries in their pursuit of knowledge and work to strengthen their mentoring circle through professional networking events and seminars.”

For more information about these events, contact Chakrabarti at


Priyamvada Natarajan