21st Century - Physics

Claudia de Rham

Claudia de Rham is a Swiss theoretical physicist working at the interface of gravity, cosmology and particle physics. She is based at Imperial College London. She was one of the UK finalists in the Physical Sciences and Engineering category of the Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists in 2018 for revitalizing the theory of massive gravity, and won the award in 2020.

Picture of Claudia de Rham

Early life and education

de Rham was born in Lausanne.[1] She completed her undergraduate studies in France, receiving an engineering degree in physics at the École Polytechnique in Paris in 2000.[2] She received a master’s degree in Physics from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in 2001.[2] In 2002, de Rham moved to the UK, achieving a PhD in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge on “braneworld cosmology beyond the low-energy limit”.[3] She has trained as a pilot and made it through several stages of the European Space Agency’s astronaut selection process.[4]


After her PhD, de Rham moved to Montreal to join the Physics Department at McGill University.[5][6] She moved to McMaster University and the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics in 2006, where she worked in a joint postdoctoral position in Cosmology.[7] In 2010 she joined Geneva University as an Assistant Professor.[8][9] She moved to Case Western Reserve University in 2011 and became an Associate Professor there in 2016.[10][11] She joined Imperial College London in 2016. In 2016 she was awarded a £100,000 Wolfson Merit Award from the Royal Society, “Massive Gravity from Cosmology to Condensed Matter Systems”.[12][13]

Her research is in the area of theoretical cosmology, and she explores gravitational models which could explain the accelerated expansion of the Universe. de Rham is recognised as a researcher at the forefront of the development of theories of massive gravity, where the particle carrier of the gravitational force, the graviton, may be massive.[14] In 2010 de Rham constructed a nonlinear theory of massive graviton, which is theoretically consistent and ghost free.[15][16] The massive gravity is now known as “de Rham-Gabadadze-Tolley (dRGT) theory”, owing to the discovery by de Rham, Gregory Gabadadze, and Andrew J. Tolley.[15] Her research helps tackle the problem of the cosmological constant, and could describe the accelerated expansion of the universe as a purely gravitational effect, where massive gravitons are responsible for the so-called dark energy.[2]

In 2015 she gave a TEDx talk titled Nature of the Graviton.[14][17] She has discussed the underrepresentation of girls in physics with the Ideas Roadshow.[18] She gives regular public lectures about theoretical cosmology.[19][20][21][22]

de Rham has been interviewed by Morgan Freeman in season 8 of Through the Wormhole.


In November 2023 de Rham co-authored The Encyclopedia of Cosmology, Set 2: Frontiers in Cosmology, Volume 1: Modified Gravity, with Andrew J Tolley also of Imperial College London

Awards and leadership roles

The Teaching excellence award 2019 goes to Prof. Clémence Corminboeuf.

The Teaching excellence award 2019 goes to Prof. Clémence Corminboeuf.

  • 2023: Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences[23]
  • 2020: Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists: winner, UK Physical Sciences and Engineering[24][4]
  • 2019: Teaching Excellence Award 2019[31]
  • 2018: St John’s College, Cambridge Adams Prize[25]
  • 2018: Blavatnik Award for Young Scientists: finalist, UK Physical Sciences and Engineering[26][27]
  • 2017: EPFL Alumni Award[1]
  • 2017–2021: PI on Simons Foundation Award, ‘Origins of the Universe’ program with Rachel Rosen[28]
  • 2017–2022: PI on ERC consolidator grant, for the project “Massive Gravity and Cosmology,”[29]
  • 2016–2021: Royal Society Wolfson Merit Award[13]
  • 2012–2013: PI on ACES Advance Opportunity Grant, for the project “Recent Developments in Massive Gravity”[30]
  • 2010–2014: PI on Swiss National Foundation Professorship Grant, for the project “Challenging the cosmological paradigm”[30]


  1. Jump up to:a b “Alumni Award Recipients”www.epflalumni.ch. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  2. Jump up to:a b c “Claudia de Rham | Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists”blavatnikawards.org. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  3. ^ Anna, De Rham, Claudia (2005). “Braneworld cosmology beyond the low-energy limit”{{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  4. Jump up to:a b Devlin, Hannah (25 January 2020). “Has physicist’s gravity theory solved ‘impossible’ dark energy riddle?”The Guardian. Retrieved 25 January 2020.
  5. ^ “McGill Physics: CHEP seminars”www.physics.mcgill.ca. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  6. ^ “CHEP Seminars 2007–2008”www.physics.mcgill.ca. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  7. ^ “Claudia de Rham | Perimeter Institute”www.perimeterinstitute.ca. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  8. ^ “Claudia de Rham”www.perimeterinstitute.ca. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  9. ^ “Claudia de Rham | Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics – University of Geneva”cosmology.unige.ch. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  10. ^ “Claudia de Rham”www.phys.cwru.edu. Archived from the original on 16 April 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  11. ^ “TED | Institute for the Science of Origins”origins.case.edu. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  12. ^ “Expanding horizons: throwing new light on dark energy”Imperial College London. Archived from the original on 2 April 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  13. Jump up to:a b “Claudia de Rham”royalsociety.org. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  14. Jump up to:a b “Claudia de Rham | TEDxCLE”www.tedxcle.com. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  15. Jump up to:a b de Rham, Claudia; Gabadadze, Gregory; Tolley, Andrew J. (2011). “Resummation of Massive Gravity”. Physical Review Letters106 (23): 231101. arXiv:1011.1232Bibcode:2011PhRvL.106w1101Ddoi:10.1103/physrevlett.106.231101PMID 21770493S2CID 3564069.
  16. ^ Rham, Claudia de (1 December 2014). “Massive Gravity”Living Reviews in Relativity17 (1): 7. arXiv:1401.4173Bibcode:2014LRR….17….7Ddoi:10.12942/lrr-2014-7ISSN 2367-3613PMC 5256007PMID 28179850.
  17. ^ TEDx Talks (3 February 2016), Nature of the Graviton | Claudia de Rham | TEDxCLESalon, retrieved 17 January 2018
  18. ^ Roadshow, Ideas (12 November 2017), Gender and physics – Claudia de Rham, retrieved 17 January 2018[permanent dead link]
  19. ^ “Claudia De Rham – Festival Histoire et Cité – archive 2017”Festival Histoire et Cité – archive 2017 (in French). Archived from the original on 18 January 2018. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  20. ^ “UK Cosmo at Portsmouth – April 5th 2017”www.icg.port.ac.uk. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  21. ^ “Tube: “Graviton Mass Bounds” by Claudia de Rham (Imperial College London) « CP³-Origins”CP³-Origins. Archived from the original on 13 September 2018. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  22. ^ “IFT Christmas Workshop – csic.es”www.csic.es (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 18 January 2018. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  23. ^ “New members”. American Academy of Arts and Sciences. 2023. Retrieved 21 April 2023.
  24. ^ “Three innovative scientists receive US$100,000 (£75,000) each from prestigious Blavatnik Awards for Young Scientists”Blavatnik Awards Young Scientists. New York Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 18 January 2020.
  25. ^ “Awards, etc. – Cambridge University Reporter 6505”www.admin.cam.ac.uk. Retrieved 25 May 2018.
  26. ^ “Theoretical physicist gets awarded in the 2018 Blavatnik Awards”Science Examiner. 16 January 2018. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  27. ^ Dunning, Hayley. “Imperial physicist wins first-of-its-kind science prize”. Archived from the original on 16 January 2018. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  28. ^ “New Initiative Ponders Origins of the Universe | Simons Foundation”Simons Foundation. 21 July 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  29. ^ Scheuber, Andrew. “Multi-million EU funding boost for Imperial researchers”Imperial College London. Archived from the original on 25 April 2017. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  30. Jump up to:a b “Home – Claudia de Rham”www.imperial.ac.uk. Retrieved 17 January 2018.
  31. ^“Teaching excellence award 2019”. actu.epfl.ch. Retrieved 29 November 2019.

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