I'm Dr. Matt O'Dowd, astrophysicist, professor & science communicator. I'm involved in (too?) many projects, but this is where you'll find my main gigs.
In my day job conduct research in extragalactic astrophysics (black holes, quasars, gravitational lensing, and more) with joint positions at the City University of New York, Lehman College and the American Museum of Natural History.
I'm also the host and writer of the weekly YouTube show PBS Space Time, currently the biggest physics and space show on YouTube with ~2 million subscribers.
On top of this, I love talking about physics, space, and what science can tell us about the future of humanity and our place in this astounding universe. Hit me up if you have an idea for a public event or speaking engagement.
As a professional astrophysicist, I'm interested in the very distant universe, because this is also the universe of the distant past. The driving question "where do we come from?" inspires me to explore how our universe evolved over its vast history.
I do this by studying some of the most important phenomena that drove this evolution, including quasars and active galactic nuclei, along with the supermassive black holes that power them. I've also done quite a bit of work studying the galaxies of the past. In all of this work I combine computer simulations with observations from some of the world's great observatories, like the Hubble, Spitzer, and GALEX Space Telescopes, and the Gemini Observatories. When those aren't enough, I use gravitational lensing to vastly enhance our resolution of these distant phenomena.
My work is conducted jointly at CUNY, Lehman College where I'm an Associate Professor and at the Astrophysics Department of AMNH's Hayden Planetarium, where I'm a Research Associate. A list of my scholarly publications can be found here.
Doing science isn't much use if you don't tell anyone about it. That's especially true for astrophysics!
I spend a lot of my time thinking and talking about space, physics, the practice and communication of science, and what our modern scientific worldview tells us about our relationship to reality.
My biggest science communication project by far is PBS Space Time, a weekly YouTube show that dives deep into everything space and physics. My intention with this show is to provide our best modern understanding of how this universe works, from the cosmic to quantum scales. I firmly believe that the universe is fundamentally gettable, and most of it is at least somewhat gettable without a physics degree.
Space Time a PBS Digital Studios show produced by Kornhaber Brown. I host the show, and write most episodes (of which there are now >200).
I also do a lot of public speaking and make regular appearances on other shows. Here's a sample of some of what's on the Internet, to save you googling it:
PBS Space Time (1.9M subscribers, >900 episodes, >200 million total views)
A Taste of Space with Neil deGrasse Tyson
Deep Space with Mike Massimino
How the Universe Works, Season 8
Secrets of Time Travel
Edge of the Universe
My Reddit AMA (front page for a full day!)
Science Goes to the Movies!
"Spacetime," Einstein & Mr. Spock's Dad!
Our Favorite Fictional Female Scientists
The real science in "A Wrinkle in Time"
AMNH Science Bulletins
Distant Quasars: Shedding Light on Black Holes
TEDxTUWien: Fermi's Paradox and the Psychology of Galactic Empires
Some cameos on other YouTube shows
It's Okay to be Smart: Where Did Life Come From?
PBS Eons: What Was the Ancestor of Everything?
Braincraft:4 Brain Teasers Asked in Job Interviews
Want to collaborate on something cool? Use this form to get in touch about new project ideas, for expert commentary & interviews (anything space, physics, or the practice and communication of science), and for speaking engagements. I'm not able to respond to your science questions here, sorry!