Tom A. Prince

Dr. Thomas A. Prince is a Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology holding a joint appointment with Caltech’s NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) as a Senior Research Scientist. Between May 2001 and June 2006, Prince was the Chief Scientist at JPL. He is currently Director of the W.M. Keck Institute for Space Studies at Caltech.

Prince, is a native of Cleveland, Ohio. He holds a bachelor's degree from Villanova University and master's and doctorate degrees in physics from the University of Chicago.

Prince began his research career in experimental cosmic ray astrophysics before coming to the Caltech campus to work in the area of experimental gamma ray astronomy, collaborating with the high-energy astrophysics group at JPL. Prince became a Millikan Fellow in 1980 and joined the Caltech professorial faculty in 1983. Detection and study of neutron stars and black holes has been a continuing theme in Prince's research, starting with his gamma ray observations of compact objects in the galactic center region. He participated in several expeditions to the Australian outback in the late 1980's to make balloon observations of the radioactive decay energy from Supernova 1987a.

During the 1980's, Prince became interested in the evolving field of parallel computing which he applied to several areas of astronomy including radio, x-ray and gamma-ray pulsar detection, imaging infrared surveys, optical interferometric imaging, and virtual observatory technology. His current research area is the development of techniques for detection of gravitational waves from neutron star and black hole systems. He is US Mission Scientist for the Laser Interferometer Space Antenna (LISA) and was a member of the ground-based Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO).

Among the positions that Prince has held are: Associate Director, Caltech Center for Advanced Computing Research (CACR); member of the National Research Council Commission on Physical Sciences, Mathematics, and applications; co-chair of the National Research Council Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics; and chair of the NASA Gamma Ray Observatory Users' Committee.

He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and has received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.

A resident of South Pasadena, Prince is married to Charlene Reichert and has three children, Jesse (33), David (30), and Anya (27).

  • B.S. Mathematics Villanova University 1970
  • Ph.D. Physics University of Chicago 1978

Research Interests: 
  • Gravitational Wave Astronomy

Professional Experience: 

Postdoctoral Positions

  • Research Associate University of Chicago 1977-79
  • Research Fellow Caltech 1979-80
  • Millikan Fellow Caltech 1980-82


  • Senior Research Scientist JPL 2006-present
  • Professor of Physics Caltech 1992-present
  • Associate Professor Caltech 1986-92
  • Assistant Professor Caltech 1983-86

Selected Professional Service

  • Director, Keck Institute for Space Studies 2008-present
  • Chief Scientist, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory 2001-2006
  • Mission Scientist, NASA LISA Mission 2000-present
  • Co-Chair, NAS/NRC Committee on Astronomy and Astrophysics 1997-2000
  • Member, NRC/AASC Panel on Theory, Computation and Data Exploration 1998-99
  • Chair, Steering Committee, Caltech Center for Advanced Computing Research 1998-2001
  • Member, NAS/NRC Commission on Physical Sci., Math., and Applications 1994-97
  • Member, NASA Space Science Advisory Committee 1994-96
  • Chair, Compton Gamma Ray Observatory Users Committee 1988-1992


  • Fellow, American Physical Society
  • NASA Distinguished Service Medal

Selected Publications: 
  1. “The LISA Optimal Sensitivity”, T.A. Prince, M. Tinto, S. L. Larson, and J. W. Armstrong, Phys. Rev. D., 66, 122002 (2002).
  2. “Detection of Variable Frequency Signals using a Fast Chirp Transform”, F.A. Jenet and T.A. Prince, Phy Rev D. , 62, 122001(2000)
  3. “Data-Intensive Computing and Digital Libraries”, R. Moore, T.A. Prince, and M. Ellisman, Comm. of the ACM, 41, 56 (1998)
  4. “A Wide Bandwidth Digital Recording System for Radio Pulsar Astronomy”, S. Unwin, W. Cook, R. Jenet, T.A. Prince, PASP, 109, 1 (1997)
  5. “Observations of Accreting Pulsars”, L. Bildsten et al., ApJS, 113, 367 (1997)
Tom A. Prince
4800 Oak Grove Dr.
Pasadena, CA 91109
Phone: 818.393.6233
Fax Number: 818.354.8895