Ralph Wijers is professor of high-energy astrophysics at the University of Amsterdam. He specializes in energetic explosions from extreme objects such as black holes and neutron stars. He studied at Leiden Observatory and the University of Amsterdam and went on to Princeton (Compton Fellowship) and Cambridge (Royal Society Fellowship), and to a faculty position at Stonybrook University before joining API. He is a VICI and ERC Advanced Investigator laureate and co-winner of the 2002 EU Descartes Prize for research on gamma-ray bursts. He is a member of multiple national and international scientific governing and advisory councils and editor of two journals: Monthly Notices and New Astronomy Reviews. Since 2011, he is director of API.
Wijers’ research spans the range from theoretical to instrumental, in astronomy and astro-particle physics. Specifically, he studies the phenomena and mechanisms behind accretion-powered black holes and neutron stars, and explosions resulting from such compact objects. He has developed blast-wave models for gamma-ray bursts and used them to study their properties. He also is involved in searches for rare new types of transient source, in particular at radio wavelengths with the LOFAR and AARTFAAC telescopes. His long-term goal is to understand highly relativistic objects in terms of basic physics. He has been interested in astronomy outreach since a young age, and teaches all levels of courses from introductory astronomy to advanced graduate courses.