Wendy Freedman focuses her research on measuring both the current and past expansion rates of the universe, and on characterizing the nature of dark energy, a mysterious force that causes the universe to accelerate its expansion. A decade ago she led a team of 30 astronomers who carried out the Hubble Key Project to measure the current expansion rate of the universe. The project’s final results determined the age of the universe as approximately 13.7 billion years, resolving a longstanding debate regarding previously wide-ranging estimates.
Freedman was the founding leader from 2003 until 2015 of an international consortium (including UChicago) to build the world’s largest telescope high in the mountains of Chile. The Giant Magellan Telescope will be as tall as the Statue of Liberty when complete, and ten times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope—with the ability to look back at the dawn of the cosmos.
She is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Physical Society. Her honors also include the Gruber Cosmology Prize.