Riccardo Giovanelli


College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Alumni Award (1990)
Indiana University Bloomington
Ph.D. in Astronomy, 1976


The Italian-born Riccardo Giovanelli is a Professor of Astronomy at Cornell University. He began his university education at the University of Parma in Parma, Italy and graduated with laurea cum laude in physics from the University of Bologna in 1969. Giovanelli entered the graduate program at Indiana University as a Fullbright fellow and received his Ph.D in Astronomy in 1976.

He then undertook his Ph.D. research as a graduate student in residence at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Charlottesville, VA from 1972-3. Upon completion of his Ph.D., he joined the staff of the Arecibo Observatory of the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center in Puerto Rico, eventually serving as head of the radio astronomy group and director of the observatory. Throughout the 1980s, he studied the properties of galaxies in clusters and the large-scale structure of the universe by means of redshift surveys of galaxies. In 1989, Giovanelli and his wife, Martha Haynes, were awarded the Henry Draper Medal from the National Academy of Sciences for their work with on mapping the local universe and work in cosmological physics.

In 1991, he joined the faculty at Cornell as professor of astronomy. His research areas includes observational cosmology and the structure, evolution, and environments of galaxies. During the 1990s, Giovanelli studied the measurement of galaxy distances, cosmic parameters and large-scale flows produced by perturbations in the cosmic mass density field through redshift-independent methods. Italy honored him with the title of Knight of the Republic in 1997 for his work in astronomy.

In recent years, Giovanelli developed and is currently directing the CCAT project of building a large submillimeter telescope in the high Atacama Desert in South America, which was ranked as the highest priority of the mid-scale ground observational projects by the Astronomy and Astrophysics Decadal Reveiw of the United States National Research Council in 2010.