Bernard Schutz elected member of the US National Academy of Sciences

Membership in the National Academy of Sciences is considered one of the highest honors a scientist can receive

May 10, 2019

Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. Bernard F. Schutz, director emeritus at and founding director of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute; AEI) in Potsdam has been elected member of the US National Academy of Sciences. Members are elected to the Academy in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research. Every year, a maximum of only 100 members across all sciences may be elected. Membership is a widely accepted mark of excellence in science. Professor Schutz will be officially inducted into the NAS at its next annual meeting in the spring of next year.

“This is a great honour that came as a complete surprise,” says Bernard Schutz. “I’m absolutely delighted to have been elected to this important academy by such distinguished colleagues. It is a wonderful recognition not only of my own research in gravitational-wave physics but of the work that the members of my research groups at the AEI and at Cardiff University have done over many years.”

Bernard Schutz has developed important principles for the observation of the universe with gravitational waves and plays a leading role in the development of both earth-based and space-based gravitational wave observatories. His work on understanding gravitational-wave sources, and on the development of methods for analyzing and interpreting their signals, has made him one of pioneering experts in general relativity research. As a founding director of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute) (together with Prof. Dr. Jürgen Ehlers), Bernard Schutz has been instrumental in revitalizing research in the field of General Relativity in Germany since 1995.

Schutz began working in gravitational wave detection in the 1980s, when today’s detectors were still on the drawing boards. He pioneered methods for extracting maximum information from the signals that these detectors would ultimately find, including how to measure the distances to most of their astrophysical sources. This work underpins much of the science being returned by the detectors today. He was also a key member of the team of scientists that designed the space-based LISA gravitational wave mission, which is now being developed by the European Space Agency for a launch in 2034. Schutz is also the author of two widely used textbooks and is the founder of the internet journal Living Reviews in Relativity, one of the most highly cited scientific journals in the world.

“I am of course greatly indebted to the whole international gravitational-wave community, without whose extraordinary achievements I am sure I would not have gained this honor. The NAS advises the US government on science policy and priorities, so I hope I will be able to work within the Academy to support the continued future development of gravitational wave science in the US and worldwide.

The US National Academy of Sciences

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a private, non-profit society of distinguished scholars. Established by an Act of Congress, signed by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, the NAS is charged with providing independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology. Scientists are elected by their peers to membership in the NAS for outstanding contributions to research. The NAS is committed to furthering science in America, and its members are active contributors to the international scientific community. Nearly 500 members of the NAS have won Nobel Prizes, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, founded in 1914, is today one of the premier international journals publishing the results of original research.

Bernard Schutz

Bernard Schutz was born and grew up in the area around New York City. After studying physics at Clarkson University, New York, USA, Schutz obtained his PhD in 1972 at the California Institute of Technology. After 21 years at Cardiff University, Wales, UK as Lecturer and Reader and Professor for Physics and Astronomy he became one of the founding directors of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute; AEI) in Potsdam in 1994. As director of the Astrophysical Relativity department he played a major role in building up the institute until his retirement in 2014. Currently he is director emeritus at the AEI, and a professor in Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff.

Schutz has been awarded the 2006 Amaldi Medal by the Italian Society of General Relativity and Gravitation (SIGRAV) for his important contributions to gravitational physics. In 2011, he received an honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Glasgow. Bernard Schutz has already been elected a member of three learned academies: the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the Learned Society of Wales, and the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences, Uppsala.

In July 2019, he will be awarded the Eddington Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society, recognizing his discovery of how to determine distances to gravitational-wave sources and to use them to measure the expansion of the Universe in a new and independent way.

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