Featuring Wendy L. Freedman

In 1929 astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered a universe filled with galaxies and, even more incredibly, an overall expansion of space. The current rate of expansion, called the Hubble constant, is a measure of the age and size of the universe. It has remained an exceedingly difficult quantity to measure accurately, and decades of effort have led to intense debates about its value. Recently, a new debate has emerged about the Hubble constant, potentially calling into question the standard model of cosmology. For the past 20 years, astronomers have observed the entire universe expanding at an increasing rate, pulled apart by a cosmic force unexplained by any of our current physical theories. Could there be more exotic physics yet to be uncovered? Wendy Freedman will describe the current state of cosmology and her work with the Hubble Space Telescope that has led to some of the most precise measurements of the Hubble constant to date.

Contact alumniassociation@uchicago.edu or 773.702.2150.

Event Details

2:00 p.m. Registration and networking
2:30 p.m. Presentation and discussion
3:30 p.m. Reception

$10/Maroon Loyalty Society member or recent graduate (College alumni of the past 10 years and graduate alumni of the past five years)
Free for current academic year graduates and current students
Two complimentary registrations for members of the Chicago, Harper, Odyssey, and Phoenix philanthropic societies

Learn more about UChicago giving societies.

Parking Information

Valet parking is available at a discounted rate of $19.

Featured Faculty


Wendy Freedman is the John and Marion Sullivan University Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago. A native of Toronto, she received her doctorate in astronomy and astrophysics from the University of Toronto in 1984. For 11 years (2003–14), she served as the Crawford H. Greenewalt Director of the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California. Freedman received a Carnegie Fellowship at the Carnegie Observatories in 1984, joined the permanent faculty in 1987, and was appointed director in 2003. From 2003 to 2015, she served as chair of the board of directors for the Giant Magellan Telescope, a 25-meter optical telescope scheduled for completion in Chile in 2024.

Freedman’s principle research interests are in observational cosmology. She was a principle investigator for a team of 30 astronomers who carried out the Hubble Space Telescope Key Project to measure the current expansion rate of the universe. Her current research interests include measuring the expansion rate of the universe and characterizing the nature of dark energy, which is causing the universe to speed up its expansion. She is the principal investigator of a long-term program with the Hubble and Spitzer Space Telescopes to measure the Hubble constant to an accuracy of 3 percent.

Freedman is an elected member of the National Academy of Sciences (2003) and the American Philosophical Society (2007), as well as an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (2000) and the American Physical Society (2011). She has received numerous prestigious awards, including the 2009 Gruber Cosmology Prize and the 2016 Dannie Heineman Prize for Astrophysics, awarded by the American Institute of Physics and American Astronomical Society.