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Gordon T. Richards, PhD, professor of Physics, Drexel University

Gordon T. Richards, PhD

Chair, Faculty Senate Budget, Process, and Development (BP&D) Committee
Department of Physics
Office: Disque 812
Phone: 215.895.2713

Additional Sites:
Personal Page
Astrophysics Group

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  • PhD, Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Chicago, 2000
  • SM, Astronomy & Astrophysics, University of Chicago, 1995
  • AB, Astrophysical Sciences, Princeton University, 1994

Curriculum Vitae:

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Research Interests:

  • Quasars
  • Active Galactic Nuclei
  • Supermassive black holes
  • Galaxy evolution
  • Sky surveys
  • Infrared/X-ray/radio astronomy


Professor Richards is an expert in identifying quasars and active galactic nuclei (AGNs) through modern statistical methods using imaging data (pictures) from large astronomical sky surveys, notably the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. Quasars and AGNs are galaxies in which new material is currently falling into supermassive black holes at their centers. Dr. Richards is interested in understanding the accretion disks that feed these massive black holes, how mass and energy ejected from these black holes influence the evolution of galaxies over time, and how large quasar samples may serve as statistical probes of the structure of the Universe.

Richards frequently uses space-based observatories such as the Hubble Space Telescope, Spitzer Space Telescope, and the Chandra X-ray Observatory. He also draws upon ground-based optical and radio observatories, particularly the Very Large Array radio telescope. Dr. Richards is a member of the AGN science collaboration for the upcoming Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) project –in which Drexel participates– conducted at the Vera Rubin Observatory in Chile. He serves as the co-chair of the LSST AGN science collaboration.

Professor Richards has co-authored more than 250 articles in refereed journals and is the primary investigator on grant awards from the National Science Foundation and NASA. In 2007, Richards was one of 23 physicists, three in astrophysics, selected for the prestigious Alfred P. Sloan research fellowship and earned an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship in 2013 to support sabbatical work at the Max Planck Institut für Astronomie in Heidelberg, Germany. He is a frequent visitor to the University of Cambridge.

Selected Publications:

  • Richards, G. T., McCaffrey, T. V., Kimball, A., Rankine, A. L., Matthews, J. H., Hewett, P. C., & Rivera, A. B. 2021, “Probing the Wind Component of Radio Emission in Luminous High-Redshift Quasars”, Astronomical Journal, 162, 270
  • Rivera, A. B., Richards, G. T., Hewett, P. C., & Rankine, A. L. 2020, “Characterizing Quasar C IV Emission-line Measurements from Time-resolved Spectroscopy”, Astrophysical Journal, 899(2), 96
  • Stone, R. B., & Richards, G. T. 2019, “Narrow, intrinsic C IV absorption in quasars as it relates to outflows, orientation, and radio properties”, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 488(4), 5916–5934
  • Timlin, J. D., Ross, N. P., Richards, G. T., Myers, A. D., Pellegrino, A., et al. 2018, “The Clustering of High-redshift (2.9   z   5.1) Quasars in SDSS Stripe 82”, Astrophysical Journal, 859, 20
  • Peters, C. M., Richards, G. T., Myers, A. D., et al. 2015, “Quasar Classification Using Color and Variability”, Astrophysical Journal, 811, 95
  • Richards, G. T., et al. 2015, “Bayesian High-redshift Quasar Classification from Optical and Mid-IR Photometry”, Astrophysical Journal Supplements, 219, 39
  • Krawczyk, C. M., Richards, G. T., Gallagher, S. C., Leighly, K. M., Hewett, P. C., Ross, N. P., & Hall, P. B. 2015, “Mining for Dust in Type 1 Quasars”, Astronomical Journal, 149, 203
  • Kratzer, R. M., & Richards, G. T. 2015, “Mean and Extreme Radio Properties of Quasars and the Origin of Radio Emission”, Astronomical Journal, 149, 61