Before coming to Oxford, Prof. Balbus had been Professeur des Universités in the Physics Department of the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris for nine years. He was educated at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he took BS degrees in both mathematics and physics, and the University of California at Berkeley, where he obtained his PhD in theoretical astrophysics. He has also held academic posts at Princeton University, MIT, and the University of Virginia. Prof. Balbus's field of study is astrophysical fluid dynamics, with a particular interest in the behaviour of magnetised gases. He has made widely-recognised contributions to our understanding of accretion discs, dilute gases, and the interior of the Sun.
Prof. Balbus is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a member of the US National Academy of Sciences. He shared the 2013 Shaw Prize in Astronomy with John Hawley for his work on accretion disc turbulence. He was awarded the 2020 Eddington Medal from the RAS, and the Dirac Medal and Prize from the IoP in 2021.