Announcing Angela V. Olinto as Provost of Columbia University
Dear fellow members of the Columbia community:
I am delighted to share with you that I have appointed Angela V. Olinto as the next Provost of Columbia University, effective April 1, 2024. Professor Olinto is currently at the University of Chicago, serving as Dean of the Division of the Physical Sciences and the Albert A. Michelson Distinguished Service Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
Professor Olinto is a pioneer of astroparticle physics. Her research has made seminal contributions to our understanding of the inflationary origins of the universe, the cosmological effects of magnetic fields, the structure of neutron stars, and the highest energy cosmic rays, gamma-rays, and neutrinos. The implications of her work touch on everything from the workings of the universe to the evolution of life on this planet.
Professor Olinto comes to Columbia with an extensive background in academic administration and leadership. In her role as Dean of the Division of the Physical Sciences, which she has held since 2018, she oversees the departments of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Chemistry, Computer Science, Geophysical Sciences, Mathematics, Physics, and Statistics, as well as a number of research institutes and centers at the University of Chicago. Twice, she served as Chair of the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics.
In addition to her current faculty appointments in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Professor Olinto is a member of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics and the Enrico Fermi Institute at the University of Chicago, and the College. For NASA, she is the Principal Investigator of the Probe of Extreme Multi-Messenger Astrophysics (POEMMA) space and balloon missions and the Extreme Universe Space Observatory (EUSO) on a super pressure balloon (SPB) missions. Professor Olinto was also a member of the Pierre Auger Observatory in Malargue, Argentina. These projects were all designed to discover the origins of the highest energy cosmic particles, their sources, and their interactions.
A brilliant teacher and thoughtful mentor, Professor Olinto has supported and helped shape the careers of countless undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers fortunate enough to have worked with her. Her most popular classes have explored topics including the Big Bang, galaxies, European astronomy and astrophysics, and the origins and evolution of the universe. She has received numerous teaching awards, including, most recently, the Faculty Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching and Mentoring at the University of Chicago in 2015.
She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Brazilian Academy of Sciences. She is a fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has served on many advisory committees for the National Academy of Sciences, Department of Energy, National Science Foundation, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Born in Boston, Professor Olinto spent her formative years in her family’s native Brazil, graduating with a BS in Physics from Pontíficia Universidade Católica in Rio de Janeiro. She went on to receive her PhD in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology before beginning her career as a postdoctoral research associate with the Theoretical Astrophysics Group at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. She was the first woman to receive tenure at the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, the first woman chair of any department in the Physical Sciences, and the first woman Dean of the Physical Sciences at the University of Chicago. She served on the Committee on Freedom of Expression that developed the “Chicago Principles” in 2014.
Professor Olinto will join the Columbia community on March 1 and will spend her first month working closely with Dennis Mitchell to ensure a seamless transition. Please join me in welcoming Professor Olinto to our exceptional community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni and in thanking Dennis Mitchell for his fantastic work as Interim Provost as he prepares to return his focus full-time to his positions as Executive Vice President for University Life and Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement.
President, Columbia University in the City of New York