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
Doctorate, Doctor of Philosophy | 1980
University of Cambridge
First Degree, Bachelor of Arts (Honours) | 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.