Scientific Advisory Board

The Scientific Advisory Board supports the work of the Steering Group of the OKC.

These are the current members of the board.


Torsten Åkesson (SAB Chair)

Torsten Akesson is co-spokesperson for LDMX, an experiment to search for Light Dark Matter. His research also spans the CERN LHC, where he is a founding member of ATLAS (one of the experiments which discovered the Higgs Boson) and its former deputy spokesperson. He is former president of the CERN Council, former chairman of ECFA, and former head of the particle physics division at Lund University.

He did his PhD in particle physics on the first measurement of the energy dependence of the jet cross section at the CERN ISR, a phenomenological study of the criteria for jet observation, and some R&D on instrumentation.

After his PhD he became a CERN fellow and then staff, where he continued jet studies, did a search for free quarks in jet-events, built and did research with NA34 on the universality of the coupling to the lepton-families, and on heavy ion collisions. He also then started his preparatory studies for the LHC research programme. Afterwards he moved to CNRS at LAL/Orsay in Paris where he used the UA2 experiment at the CERN SPS collider to search for the top quark.

In 1990 he became a Swedish Research Council senior researcher and moved to Lund University, where he began, with international collaborators, to work on the design of what would become ATLAS, and on the R&D of one of its detectors. During this period, he also worked on machine learning applied to LEP-data. He became CERN staff again in 1998, and professor at Lund University in 2000. He is an elected member of the Royal Physiographic Society in Lund and of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.


Olga Botner

Olga Botner is professor of experimental particle physics at Uppsala University where she has been active since 1986. She earned her PhD in 1985 from Copenhagen University, working at CERN on the Axial Field Spectrometer experiment at the Intersecting Storage Rings with calorimetry and quark flavor identification. Subsequently, she worked with charm quark identification using the ring imaging Cherenkov counter installed in UA2 and eventually joined the forward-RICH group working on the DELPHI experiment at LEP.

In 1998, she switched to astroparticle physics joining the AMANDA project, the prototype for the world’s largest neutrino telescope IceCube at the South Pole. She has, for many years, served in leading roles within the international IceCube collaboration – specifically as spokesperson during the 4 years 2013 – 2017.
In 2001-2003 she served as deputy chair on the board of the Swedish Scientific Council for Natural and Engineering Sciences and chaired several of the Council’s committees. Since 2001, she is foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences and has served on the Nobel Committee for Physics for 9 years, before stepping down in 2019. In 2017, she was awarded Uppsala University’s Rudbeck Medal for prominent achievements in science.


Ulf Danielsson

Ulf Danielsson is professor of theoretical physics at Uppsala university. His research is focused on string theory and its applications to black holes and cosmology. He obtained his PhD at Princeton University in 1992 and was a Fellow at CERN between 1992 and 1994. In 2008 he received the Göran Gustafsson Prize in physics for his work.  He was Dean of Physics 2005-2011 and Dean of the Faculty of Science and Technology 2011-2014 at Uppsala university. He is engaged in the popularization of science and is the author of several books. Since 2009 he is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.


Luis Lehner

Luis Lehner is a physicist who focuses on understanding strongly gravitating systems, both in standard four-dimensional spacetimes and in higher-dimensional ones. He received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics from the University of Pittsburgh in 1998, where he held a Mellon pre-doctoral fellowship. After postdoctoral work at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of British Columbia, Lehner was an Assistant and then an Associate Professor at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Louisiana State University. He moved to Waterloo in 2009 for a joint position with the University of Guelph/Perimeter Institute, and became full-time Senior Faculty at Perimeter Institute.

He has published over 130 papers on gravitation, astrophysics and computational physics. He received the Honor Prize in 1993 from the National University of Cordoba, Argentina; the CGS/UMI outstanding dissertation award, and the Nicholas Metropolis award in 1999. He was an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow (2003-2005) and is a fellow of APS (USA), CIFAR (Canada), IoP (UK) and the International Society of General Relativity and Gravitation. He has served on the Advisory Boards of the KITP (UCSB) and ICTP-SAIFR (Brazil) and is the Theorist in Residence for the Gravitational Wave International Committee.


Carole Mundell

Professor Carole Mundell was appointed Chief Scientific Adviser (CSA) at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom in October 2018, and took up the role of International Science Envoy in January 2021. She is Professor of Extragalactic Astronomy, Head of Astrophysics at the University of Bath and a Fellow of the Institute of Physics.

Her career highlights include a Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award (2011-2016) for the study of black hole-driven explosions and the dynamic Universe, the FDM Everywoman in Technology Woman of the Year award (2016), and leadership roles as UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) Board Member and STFC Skills and Engagement Advisory Board Chair (2015). She studied at the University of Glasgow where she gained a BSc in Physics before working at the Jodrell Bank Observatory, University of Manchester, where she completed a PhD in Astrophysics. She later moved to the University of Maryland before joining Liverpool John Moores University, where she received her first professorship in 2007. She is a frequent guest speaker at international conferences, sits on a number of strategic advisory panels for UK and international groups, is a committed communicator of science, and is a vocal advocate for diversity in science.


Licia Verde

Licia Verde is a cosmologist, currently ICREA Professor at the Instituto de Ciencias del Cosmos of the University of Barcelona. Her research interests include large-scale structure, dark energy, inflation, and the cosmic microwave background.

She received her degree from the Universita di Padova and a PhD from the University of Edinburgh. She did postdoctoral work at Rutgers University and Princeton University and was on the faculty at The University of Pennsylvania. 

She was part of the WMAP science team and has worked on large scale structure surveys such as the degree field galaxy redshift survey,  Sloan Digital Sky Survey , and now the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument collaboration. She received the  Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics (2018), National Research Award of Catalonia (2018), and the European Astronomical Society Lodewijk Woltjer Lecture (2019).  She is member of the arXiv Scientific advisory board and co-scientific director of JCAP.


Ralph Wijers

Ralph Wijers specialises in theory and observations of energetic explosions from extreme objects -- such as black holes and neutron stars -- and other astrophysical transients, and is PI of the AARTFAAC all-sky radio telescope. He got his MSc from Leiden Observatory and his PhD from the University of Amsterdam, after which he held a NASA Compton Fellowship at Princeton and a Royal Society Fellowship at Cambridge.

He went on to an assistant professorship at Stonybrook University and then returned to the University of Amsterdam as full professor in High-Energy Astrophysics in 2002. He is a VICI and ERC Advanced Investigator laureate and member of the international team that won the 2002 EU Descartes Prize for discoveries in gamma-ray bursts. He teaches enthusiastically, from the broad undergraduate level to specialised graduate courses, and is actively involved in outreach. He is a member of several national and international scientific governing and advisory councils. He was director of the Anton Pannekoek Institute for Astronomy from 2011-2020, and chair of the Netherlands Astronomy Council (the Dutch astronomy long range planning body).


Jim Peebles (honorary member)

Jim Peebles is a theoretical cosmologist, currently the Albert Einstein Professor of Science, Emeritus, at Princeton University. He did his PhD at Princeton, graduating in 1962. Throughout his career he worked on the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), first working with Robert Dicke to predict its existence and later studying the emergence and growth of structure from the relatively smooth primordial conditions encoded in the CMB. He pioneered what is now called the standard cosmological model, including the addition of dark matter and the implications for this unseen mass on the evolution of structures. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2019 for his theoretical contributions to physical cosmology. He is the author of three monographs on cosmology.


Frank Wilczek (honorary member)

Frank Wilczek is a theoretical physicist and author. He received a B.S. at the University of Chicago in 1970, and a PhD in physics at Princeton University in 1974. Currently he is the Herman Feshbach professor of physics at the MIT; Founding Director of the T. D. Lee Institute and Chief Scientist at Wilczek Quantum Center, Shanghai Jiao Tong University; Distinguished Professor at Arizona State University; and Professor at Stockholm University.He has made seminal contributions to fundamental particle physics, cosmology and the physics of materials. His current research focus includes Axions, Anyons, and Time Crystals. He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2004.

He has authored several well-known books, and writes a monthly "Wilczek's Universe" feature for the Wall Street Journal. His latest book, "Fundamentals", was released in January 2021.

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