Dr. Dominic Benford

Dr. Dominic Benford

Dr. Dominic Benford is the Program Scientist for WFIRST, the Decadal Survey-recommended mission to conduct major surveys in the near-infrared to answer fundamental questions of the nature of dark energy, the distribution of dark matter, the occurrence of planets around other stars, and even to enable the direct imaging of planetary systems. See https://wfirst.gsfc.nasa.gov for more information.  He is also the Program Scientist for the Herschel mission and has science roles in other far-infrared astrophysics activities such as technology development and future mission concept studies.

Previously, Dr. Benford was the Chief Scientist for the Cosmic Origins Program Office (cor.gsfc.nasa.gov), where he was responsible for the scientific planning for and execution of future Cosmic Origins missions and the development of their requisite technologies.  He was the Deputy Mission Scientist for WISE, the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (wise.ssl.berkeley.edu/).  Dr. Benford was the Deputy PI of the Destiny mission to characterize dark energy, and served on the JDEM SCG and ISWG. He has led and participated in several mission concept studies, including the SAFIR Vision Mission, SPIRIT, SPECS, and FKSI. He has pursued research in continuum detectors for ground-based submillimeter observations, near-Terahertz heterodyne receiver technology, submillimeter observations of star forming regions and ultraluminous galaxies, and cryogenic systems for space observatories.

Dr. Benford's research interests are in extragalactic astrophysics and cosmology, with an emphasis on the formation and evolution of galaxies and their stars.  His primary technology research background is in the development of instrumentation for far-infrared and submillimeter astronomy and supporting technologies. One of the projects featuring these detectors is HAWC+, the upgraded facility instrument for SOFIA that features much larger detectors and twin arrays to enable differential polarimetry. He has also been heavily involved in developing far-infrared interferometry with the BETTII balloon-borne experiment (asd.gsfc.nasa.gov/bettii/), and in supporting cosmic microwave background polarimetry with the PIPER experiment.

Dr. Benford joined NASA at the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland in 2001. He earned the Ph. D. degree from the California Institute of Technology in 1999, and the B. A. degree from the University of California at Berkeley in 1992.  Dr. Benford has been on detail in the Astrophysics Division at NASA Headquarters since 2013.