Professor Billinge earned his Ph.D in Materials Science and Engineering from University of Pennsylvania in 1992, following a B.A. at Oxford University. He spent 2 years at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico as a post-doc before joining the faculty as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Michigan State University in 1994. He became Associate Professor in 1999 and Full Professor in 2003. In 2008 he took up his current position as Professor of Applied Physics, Applied Mathematics and Materials Science at Columbia University and Scientist at Brookhaven National Laboratory. Professor Billinge has published more than 200 papers in scholarly journals. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and the Neutron Scattering Society of America, a former Flubright and Sloane fellow and has earned a number of awards including being honored in 2011 for contributions to the nation as an immigrant by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the 2010 J. D. Hanawalt Award of the International Center for Diffraction Data, University Distinguished Faculty award at Michigan State, the Thomas H. Osgood Undergraduate Teaching Award. He is Section Editor of Acta Crystalographica Section A: Advances and Foundations. He regularly chairs and participates in reviews of major facilities and federally funded programs.

His research focuses on the study of local-structure property relationships of disordered crystals and nanocrystals using advanced x-ray and neutron diffraction techniques. In particular he is a leader in the development of the atomic pair distribution function (PDF) method applied to complex materials. These methods are applied to the study of nanoscale structure and its role in the properties of diverse materials of interest, for example, in energy, catalysis, environmental remediation and pharmaceuticals.