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Katherine J. Mack, popularly known as Katie Mack, was born 1 May 1981. She is a theoretical cosmologist, writer and science communicator. Captivated by science as a child, she built solar-powered cars out of Lego, and was encouraged by her mother to watch Star Trek and Star Wars. Mack's grandfather worked on the Apollo 11 mission.

So, no surprise when she went to study at Cal Tech in southern California. She got a degree in physics and then went on to a PhD in astrophysics from Princeton University. Postdoctoral work followed as a research fellow at the Kavli Institute for Cosmology at the University of Cambridge in England. In 2012, Mack was a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) Fellow at the University of Melbourne in Australia. And she was involved with the construction of the dark matter detector SABRE.

She had held posts at the University of North Carolina, but In June 2022 she joins the Perimeter Institute in Canada as the inaugural Hawking Chair in Cosmology and Science Communication. The institute's director said, “Her unique talents will allow her to make important contributions in all facets of Perimeter – not only as a terrific researcher, but also as a gifted science communicator who builds bridges between scientists and the wider world.”

Mack’s research concerns the physics of the universe from beginning to end, including topics such as dark matter, black holes, fast radio bursts, and the formation of the first galaxies. But in addition, throughout her career, she has also placed an emphasis on sharing science with the broader public. As @AstroKatie, she has amassed a following of more than 400,000 on Twitter. Her popular writing has appeared in major publications including Scientific American, Slate, Sky & Telescope, and Cosmos. She's also interested in the intersection of art, poetry and science.

In 2020, she released her first book, The End of Everything (Astrophysically Speaking), which examines five ways the universe could end and the mind-blowing lessons each scenario reveals about the most important concepts in cosmology. It was named a New York Times Notable Book of 2020, among many other accolades, and continues a storied tradition of science communication of which Hawking himself is perhaps the most known example.

She popularly goes by the name Katie Mack. In an online discussion, a man unwisely suggested to her that she should learn some "actual SCIENCE". Her many fans were amused by her response: “I dunno, man, I already went and got a PhD in astrophysics. Seems like more than that would be overkill at this point”.

[Sources: Wikipedia, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics]


Mona Evans
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