Derek Fox

Associate Professor of Astronomy
and Astrophysics

425 Davey Lab
University Park, PA 16802

Phone: +1 814-863-4989
Fax: +1 814-863-9608


Personal webpage
Derek Fox

Dr. Fox is engaged in multiple research efforts targeting gamma-ray burst (GRB) afterglow discovery and observation, optical transient discovery and characterization, and searches for the first multi-messenger (optical/X-ray plus neutrino or gravitational-wave) transients. He also serves as Mission Scientist and leads the Science Team for the Joint Astrophysics Nascent Universe Satellite (JANUS), an Explorer-class mission proposed to NASA in January 2010 to discover and characterize the most distant gamma-ray bursts and quasars, the "brightest lights at the Cosmic Dawn."

By discovering, observing, and interpreting the afterglows of gamma-ray bursts, Dr. Fox has played a leading role in advancing understanding of these phenomena during the HETE and Swift mission eras. Key discoveries of his during this period include: Two of the first three detections of optical afterglow emission from early times, less than 20 minutes after the burst; the first arcsecond position and redshift for a short-duration gamma-ray burst; the first estimate of GRB-associated gravitational-wave transient rates; and key contributions to the discovery of the record-setting GRBs 050904 at redshift z=6.3, 090423 at redshift z=8.2, and 090429B at redshift z~9.4. These and other major advances in GRB studies earned the Swift team, including Dr. Fox and fellow IGC members Peter Mészáros and Niel Brandt, the 2007 Rossi Prize of the American Astronomical Society.

Beginning in 2007, Dr. Fox has conceived and led development of the science case for the JANUS mission, led by Principal Investigator Peter Roming of Southwest Research. "A quest for the brightest lights at the Cosmic Dawn," JANUS is designed to measure the cosmic star formation rate at high redshift by detecting and observing 60 gamma-ray bursts from redshifts z>5, and simultaneously, to map out the birth and growth of the supermassive black holes that seed galaxy formation by discovering 250 quasars from redshifts z>6. As a major partner in the JANUS mission, Penn State will lead the JANUS Science Team and provide its X-ray Coded Aperture Telescope and Mission Operations and Science Data Centers.



A.B. in Physics, summa cum laude, Princeton, 1993

Ph.D. in Physics, MIT, 2000


Selected Publications: