Martin Rees, IAS Trustee since 1998, is widely acknowledged as one of the world's leading astronomers and cosmologists. He has conducted influential theoretical work on subjects as diverse as black hole formation and extragalactic radio sources, and provided key evidence to contradict the Steady State theory of the evolution of the Universe. Rees was also one of the first to predict the uneven distribution of matter in the Universe, and proposed observational tests to determine the clustering of stars and galaxies. Much of his research has focused on the end of the cosmic dark ages—a period shortly after the Big Bang when the Universe was as yet without light sources.
He is a Fellow of Trinity College and Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge. He holds the honorary title of Astronomer Royal and also Visiting Professor at Imperial College London and at Leicester University. In 2005 he was appointed to the House of Lords, and he was President of the Royal Society for the period 2005–10.
Among Rees's awards are the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, the Balzan International Prize, the Heineman Prize for Astrophysics, the Einstein Award of the World Cultural Council, and the Crafoord Prize (Royal Swedish Academy). He has been president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (1994–95) and the Royal Astronomical Society (1992–94), and he has served on many bodies connected with education, space research, arms control, and international collaboration in science.
Rees is the author or co-author of more than 500 research papers, mainly on astrophysics and cosmology, and books, the most recent of which are On the Future: Prospects for Humanity (Princeton University Press 2018) and Our Cosmic Habitat (Princeton University Press 2017).