Professor Richard Alexander

Professor of Theoretical Astrophysics

School/Department: Physics & Astronomy, School of

Telephone: +44 (0)116 252 3543


Web: Personal home-page
A complete list of publications can be found via NASA ADS, or via ORCID


Prof Alexander studied at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Cambridge. He then held research positions at the University of Colorado and at Leiden Observatory, before joining the School as a Lecturer in 2009. He was promoted to Reader in 2015 and to Professor in 2019.

Prof Alexander's research studies how planets and stars form and how super-massive black holes grow. He held a Science & Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Advanced Fellowship from 2009-15 and in 2013 was awarded a Philip Leverhulme Prize.

From 2016-21 he was the PI of a European Research Council Consolidator Grant to study the formation and evolution of exoplanet systems.


Prof Alexander is a theoretical astrophysicist whose main research interests lie in the formation of planets and stars, and the growth of super-massive black holes. He has played a major role in our understanding of the early stages of planet formation, in particular the evolution of so-called protoplanetary discs. Much of Alexander's research involves building detailed computational models to understand the processes that shape the formation and evolution of planetary systems, and he is a major user of the DiRAC HPC facility. Alexander is also involved in numerous complementary observational projects studying both discs and exoplanets, with facilities such as the Hubble Space Telescope, the ESO Very Large Telescope, ALMA, and the new James Webb Space Telescope.


Alexander supervises research projects at both undergrad and postgraduate level and has also supervised numerous post-doctoral researchers. Topics for potential PhD projects include protoplanetary discs; planet formation; and the evolution of exoplanet systems.


Prof Alexander is involved in a range of teaching for both BSc and MPhys degrees. For 2022/23 he is teaching the following undergraduate modules:
  • PA1140: Waves & Quanta
  • PA3605: Quasars & Cosmology
  • All materials for these courses can be found on Blackboard. Alexander also supervises a range of 3rd- and 4th-year research projects.
  • Press and media

    Prof Alexander has made a range of media appearances, including on the BBC's The Sky at Night. Please email with enquiries.


    MPhys (Astrophysics), University of Edinburgh
    PhD, University of Cambridge
    Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society
    Fellow of the Higher Education Academy

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