Jeremiah P. Ostriker was born in 1937 in New York City. He received his A.B. degrees in physics and chemistry at Harvard and his Ph.D. in astrophysics from the University of Chicago studying under the renowned Indian physicist S. Chandrasekhar. After spending a year as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Cambridge, he accepted a position as a research associate and lecturer at Princeton in 1965. He has remained at Princeton ever since, today holding the title of emeritus professor while also teaching at Columbia University.
In addition to his significant contributions to the studies of galaxy formation, the interstellar medium, and the intergalactic medium, Ostriker has spent his career challenging assumptions underlying modern cosmology. Among his hypotheses that proved prescient is the existence of what are now known as dark matter (published in papers in 1973, co-authored by P. James E. Peebles, and 1974, co-authored by Peebles and A. Yahil) and dark energy (published in 1995, co-authored by Paul J. Steinhardt). Today the scientific consensus is that these seemingly counterintuitive components of the universe have ensured its continuing existence and determined its evolution at every scale.
Ostriker received the Helen B. Warner Prize of the American Astronomical Society in 1972, the Henry Norris Russell Prize of the American Astronomical Society in 1980, the U. S. National Medal of Science in 2000, and the Royal Astronomical Society Gold Medal in 2004, among many other honors. He has been a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 1974, a member of the American Philosophical Society since 1994, an associate member of the Royal Astronomical Society since 1994, and a foreign member of the Royal Society (London) since 2007.