UCL Department of Physics and Astronomy

Prof Jonathan Tennyson

Prof Jonathan Tennyson

Professor of Physics

Dept of Physics & Astronomy

Faculty of Maths & Physical Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Oct 1985

Research summary

My research interests cover a range of topics on the theory of small molecules. In particular I compute spectra of these molecules (my present favourite is water) and collide electrons (and occasionally positrons) with them. I am also interested in the astrophysical, atmospheric, plasma-related and other consequences of these processes.

I have started a new project ExoMol: Molecular line lists for exoplanet and other atmosphere see www.exomol.com

I am Chief Scientist of UCL spin-out company Quantemol Ltd, see www.quantemol.com

Teaching summary

The second edition of my text book

"Astronomical Spectroscopy"

was published by World Scientific in 2011


University of Sussex
DPhil, Theoretical Chemistry | 1980
University of Cambridge
BA Hons, Chemistry | 1977


I was an undergraduate at King's College, Cambridge where I gained a BA in Natural Sciences (part II Chemistry) in 1977. Between 1977 and 1980 I took a PhD in Theoretical Chemistry (electronic structure calculations) under John Murrell at the University of Sussex. I spent a productive two years (1980-82) as Royal Society Western European Exchange Fellow at the University of Nijmegen in the Netherlands, In 1982 I joined the Theory Group at Daresbury Laboratory and was eventually (1985) taken on the permanent staff. Luckily in the same year I managed to escape to University College London as a `Blood Lecturer' in Theoretical Atomic Physics. At UCL I not only found that I had become a physicist but I also discovered astronomy. I was promoted to Reader in 1991 and led the Atomic, Molecular, Optical and Positron research group from 1991-2004. I became Professor of Physics in 1994. I took was Head of Department 2004-11 and became Massey Professor of Physics in 2005. I am currently running an ERC funded project ExoMol: Molecular line lists for exoplanet and other atmospheres. I am chair of the European Task Force of Laboratory Astrophysics and a IUPAC task group on the spectroscopy of water.

In 1989 I spent a term at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel as a visiting scientist. In 1995-6, I had well earned sabbatical in the US. I spent 9 months at the Institute of Theoretical Atomic and Molecular Physics in the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and 3 months as a JILA Fellow at the University of Colorado.