ESP Biography



MOLLY SWANSON, MIT alum (PhD '08) & Harvard astrophysics postdoc




Major: Astrophysics

College/Employer: Harvard CfA

Year of Graduation: Not available.

Picture of Molly Swanson

Brief Biographical Sketch:

I grew up in Minnesota, went to Caltech for my undergrad, got my PhD in physics from MIT, and spent two years as a postdoc at University College London. I am currently a postdoc at the CfA at Harvard.

I am a cosmologist, which means I like to think about how our universe works on the largest possible scales. The thing I find most incredible about this is that it can actually teach us about the smallest scales in physics too. For example, studying the motions and clustering patterns of stars and galaxies tell us there is a lot of mass in the universe that we can't see, so we call it "dark matter". We think it could be a new type of subatomic particle that has never been seen in particle physics labs!

I also have always been passionate about education and have volunteered as a tutor, assisted in high school classrooms, developed educational software, led observatory tours, and thought a lot about how our educational system works (and doesn't work!) I love teaching people all kinds of amazing things about our universe.



Past Classes

  (Look at the class archive for more.)


The Big Bang Happened Everywhere in Splash! 2011 (Nov. 19 - 20, 2011)
We live in a universe full of mysteries. You've probably heard that our universe started in a "Big Bang", but what does that really mean? It's not a "bang" in the traditional sense, but a stretching of space itself. Understanding the true nature of this expansion reveals a surprising fact: the Big Bang happened everywhere! What's more, over 90 percent of our universe is made up of substances we don't understand: dark matter and even more mysterious dark energy. Please come join us for an exciting discussion about our amazing universe.


The Big Bang Happened Everywhere in Splash! 2010 (Nov. 20 - 21, 2010)
We live in a universe full of mysteries. You've probably heard that our universe started in a "Big Bang", but what does that really mean? It's not a "bang" in the traditional sense, but a stretching of space itself. Understanding the true nature of this expansion reveals a surprising fact: the Big Bang happened everywhere! What's more, over 90 percent of our universe is made up of substances we don't understand: dark matter and even more mysterious dark energy. Please come join us for an exciting discussion about our amazing universe.


The Big Bang Happened Everywhere in Spark! 2010 (Mar. 13, 2010)
We live in a universe full of mysteries. You've probably heard that our universe started in a "Big Bang", but what does that really mean? It's not a "bang" in the traditional sense, but a stretching of space itself. Understanding the true nature of this expansion reveals a surprising fact: the Big Bang happened everywhere! What's more, over 90 percent of our universe is made up of substances we don't understand: dark matter and even more mysterious dark energy. Please come join us for an exciting discussion about our amazing universe.


The Big Bang Happened Everywhere in Spark! 2010 (Mar. 13, 2010)
We live in a universe full of mysteries. You've probably heard that our universe started in a "Big Bang", but what does that really mean? It's not a "bang" in the traditional sense, but a stretching of space itself. Understanding the true nature of this expansion reveals a surprising fact: the Big Bang happened everywhere! What's more, over 90 percent of our universe is made up of substances we don't understand: dark matter and even more mysterious dark energy. Please come join us for an exciting discussion about our amazing universe.