Professor Roger Davies

Philip Wetton Professor of Astrophysics and Dr Lee’s Reader in Physics


BSc (UCL) PhD (Cantab), FRAS.

Academic Background

He grew up in Scunthorpe, North Lincolnshire attending the John Leggott School going on to read Physics at University College London. He started research working on galaxy dynamics in Cambridge in the 1970s after which he moved to California before spending 6 years on the staff of the US National Observatory in Tucson, Arizona. As part of the ``7 Samurai'' team he worked out a new way of measuring the distances to galaxies and discovered the ``Great Attractor'', a huge concentration of galaxy clusters in the southern sky. He moved to Oxford in 1988 to lead the UK's participation in the construction of the 8m Gemini telescopes, in Hawaii and Chile. In 1994 he took up the post of Professor of Astronomy at Durham University returning to Oxford in 2002 where he was Chairman of the Physics Department from 2005-10 & Head of Astrophysics from 2011-14. He is the founding Director of the Oxford University Centre for Astrophysical Surveys which has been funded by the Hintze Family Charitable Foundation. 

He was President of the Royal Astronomical Society 2010-12, a Fellow of University College London and holds an Honorary Degree from Claude Bernard University in Lyon, France.  His research interests centre on cosmology and how galaxies form and evolve. He has a longstanding interest in astronomical instruments & telescopes. In recent years he has pioneered the use of a new class of astronomical spectrograph to measure the masses and ages of galaxies, as well as search for black holes in their nuclei. 

Professor Roger Davies is the President of the European Astronomical Society.

Undergraduate Teaching

I teach S02 `Astrophysics: from Planets to the Cosmos' an introductory course that can be taken by first and second year Physicists.

Research Interests

My aim is to advance our understanding of the evolution of galaxies and cosmology by developing new techniques and instruments. My work has focused on the evolution of early-type galaxies. My contributions span cosmology: the distance scale and large scale motions of galaxies; galaxy evolution: dynamics, stellar populations and galaxy clusters; and telescopes, instruments & techniques. I have published 177 refereed papers, 52 have 100 or more citations, and 5 have more than 500 citations. My h-index is 67. The total citation count is in excess of 17,500.

Publications include

Roger Davies has published over 150 papers in refereed journals that have attracted over 12,000 citations with four papers reaching 500 citations. His bibliography can be found at :


Hiking, photography, gardening, swimming and pilates.