Prof. Wendy Freedman to present Ryerson Lecture on ‘Our Expanding Universe’

Public invited to eminent astronomer’s May 15 talk at Rubenstein Forum

Prof. Wendy Freedman, a leading astronomer who has made fundamental measurements of our universe, will deliver the 2023 Nora and Edward Ryerson Lecture on May 15 at the Rubenstein Forum at the University of Chicago.

A UChicago tradition since 1972, the Ryerson Lecture is an opportunity for an eminent faculty member to deliver a talk to the University community. The 5 p.m. event in the Rubenstein Forum’s Friedman Hall is free and open to the public; the lecture also will be webcast on UChicago digital channels.

Freedman is the John and Marion Sullivan University Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at UChicago. She is an observational cosmologist, using telescope measurements to better understand how the universe was born and developed over time. In particular, she specializes in measuring the Hubble Constant—the rate at which the universe is expanding over time.

She led a team who carried out the Hubble Key Project to measure the current expansion rate of the universe and served as the founding chair of the board of directors for the Giant Magellan Telescope, a 25-meter optical telescope scheduled for completion in Chile in the 2030s, from 2003 to 2015. Presently her research is directed at increasing the accuracy of measurements of the expansion rate and testing whether it indicates there is something missing from our fundamental model of how the universe developed. She currently heads an early program with the newly launched James Webb Space Telescope to measure the Hubble constant with more precision than ever before.

The talk, titled “Our Expanding Universe,” will cover developments in cosmology over the last century—from how we learned about the expansion of the universe, to recent measurements with the Hubble Space Telescope and the James Webb Space Telescope.

“I am delighted and honored to be giving this year’s Ryerson Lecture, and I am especially excited to share some of the new preliminary results that we are getting from the James Webb Space Telescope,” Freedman said.

Freedman is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Science, the American Philosophical Society, and the American Academy of Arts and Science, as well as a fellow of the American Physical Society and a legacy fellow of the American Astronomical Society.

The David Rubenstein Forum is located at 1201 E. 60th St. The facility contains accessible seating options and elevator access. The event is free, but registration is encouraged.

The Ryerson Lectures originated through a bequest from Nora and Edward Ryerson. Edward Ryerson was a former chairman of the University’s Board of Trustees. Other recent lecturers have included political scientist Cathy Cohen, paleontologist Neil Shubin, Nobel-winning economist Richard Thaler, psychologist Susan Goldin-Meadow, linguist and anthropologist Michael Silverstein, physicist Sidney Nagel and legal scholar Geoffrey Stone.