A native of Southern California, Jonas Zmuidzinas received his B.S. in physics from Caltech in 1981 and his Ph.D. in physics from UC Berkeley in 1987. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Illinois in 1988-89 and then joined the Caltech faculty as an Assistant Professor of physics in 1990. He became Associate Professor in 1995, Professor in 2000, Merle Kingsley Professor in 2010, and Director of the Caltech Optical Observatories in 2018. Concurrently, he has held positions at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and has collaborated closely with JPL scientists and technologists, including serving as a JPL Senior Research Scientist (2006-11), Director of the JPL Microdevices Laboratory (2007-2011), and JPL Chief Technologist (2011-16).
His research interests center on astrophysics at millimeter through far-infrared wavelengths, including the development of the technology needed to fully exploit this portion of the spectrum. He has constructed instrumentation for ground-based, airborne, and space telescopes, including invention and development of several types of superconducting detectors and devices as recognized by NASA’s Exceptional Technology Achievement Medal in 2013. He has served as a reviewer and advisor for NASA, NSF, the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Sandia National Laboratories, other U.S. government agencies and international science agencies, and is author or co-author of over 250 scientific articles.