Volker Springel is a computational cosmologist who studies the formation and evolution of cosmic structures. He is well known for developing powerful numerical algorithms that allowed transformative simulations of galaxy formation on large supercomputers, which in particularly highlighted the influence of supermassive black holes on galaxy evolution. Springel was born in Backnang, Germany, where he also grew up. After studies of physics at the University of Tuebingen, Germany, and the University of California at Berkeley, he obtained a Diploma Degree in Physics, followed in 2000 by a Ph.D. in Astrophysics from the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich. After postdoctoral research at Harvard University, he joined the Max-Planck-Institute for Astrophysics in Garching and became a research group leader in computational cosmology there. In 2010, he moved to a full professorship in theoretical astrophysics at Heidelberg University and the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies. In 2018, he returned to the MPI for Astrophysics as scientific director. His work has been recognized by numerous awards, among them the Gruber Cosmology Prize in 2020. He is a member of the German National Academy of Sciences, Leopoldina, and an International Member of the US National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

Volker Springel's research concentrates on theoretical predictions for the formation and evolution of cosmic structures, particularly galaxies. An important aspect of his work lies in the development of powerful astrophysical simulation methods that use parallel high-performance computers. The resulting codes can evolve the cosmic initial conditions left behind after the hot big bang to the present epoch, over the course of 13 billion years, thereby allowing a comparison of the nonlinear outcome of modern cosmological theories with astronomical observations. Springel is especially interested in the non-linear evolution of dark matter, the regulation of star formation by feedback processes such as energy and momentum injection by supernova explosions and supermassive black holes, and the connection between baryonic physics and dark matter dynamics. In his recent work, he has also begun to examine the impact of plasma physical processes on galaxy formation, such as magnetic fields and non-thermal particle populations in the form of cosmic rays. He is also working on constraining the properties of dark energy with the help of the clustering signals of matter and galaxies at different cosmic times.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 12: Astronomy

Secondary Section

Section 13: Physics