Dr Lucy Fortson is a Full Professor of Physics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Minnesota in the United States and Visiting Fellow in Physics at Keble.

She is an observational astrophysicist using very-high-energy gamma-ray telescopes to study extraordinarily large jets of material emanating from supermassive black holes at the centres of galaxies. She is also a founding member of the Zooniverse project where over 2.5 million volunteers worldwide contribute to discovery research by performing data analysis tasks across a range of active online citizen science projects from discovering planets outside our own solar system to classification of cancer cells and animal species as well as transcription of historical documents.

In her current work with Zooniverse, Fortson is partnering with Oxford colleagues on developing algorithms that combine the strengths of both humans and AI to tackle Big Data challenges with citizen science. She has over 200 peer-reviewed papers based on her career in high energy physics and astrophysics, with an additional 70 on her more recent work in machine learning, citizen science and public participation in science.

Prior to joining the faculty at UMN, Fortson was Vice President for Research at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago and a research scientist at the University of Chicago. She received her BA in 1984 from Smith College in Physics and Astronomy, and her PhD in 1991 from UCLA. She has served on numerous committees including the National Academy of Sciences Astronomy 2010 Decadal Survey, NASA’s Human Capital Committee and Astrophysics Science Subcommittee, and the National Science Foundation’s Mathematical and Physical Sciences Advisory Committee. She is a fellow of the American Physical Society, and member of the American Astronomical Society, Association for Computing Machinery and Citizen Science Association. Her awards include the APS Nicholson Award, NASA’s Exceptional Public Service Award, the University of Geneva’s Innovation Award and UMN’s Community-Engaged Scholar Award.