John Carlstrom to receive Gruber Cosmology Prize for experimental explorations of universe

Steve Koppes
Associate News DirectorUniversity Communications

The 2015 Gruber Foundation Cosmology Prize has honored the University of Chicago’s John E. Carlstrom, alumnus Jeremiah P. Ostriker, PhD’64, and Princeton University’s Lyman Page for their individual and collective contributions to the study of the universe on the largest scales.

The 2015 prize is divided into two parts: half to a distinguished theorist, and the other half to two exceptional experimentalists. The theorist is Ostriker, a professor emeritus at Princeton University, now teaching at Columbia University. Ostriker, whose graduate school mentor was UChicago Nobel laureate Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, is being honored for his groundbreaking body of work over a five-decade career.

Carlstrom, the S. Chandrasekhar Distinguished Service Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics, and Page, the Henry De Wolf Smyth Professor of Physics, have each overseen ground-based experiments that have provided a wealth of information about the origins and evolution of the universe. Carlstrom has worked extensively to study the cosmic microwave background, the relic radiation from the infancy of the universe, using the South Pole Telescope and other instruments.

“Together, the theoretical and experimental work of these three scientists has contributed to, clarified and advanced today’s standard cosmological model,” the Gruber Foundation wrote in announcing this year’s prize.

Ostriker will receive half of the $500,000 award, while Carlstrom and Page will divide the other half. All three also will receive a gold medal Aug. 3 at the XXIX General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Previous recipients of the Gruber Prize include Wendy Freedman, the University Professor in Astronomy & Astrophysics, who received the 2009 prize “for the definitive measurement of the rate of expansion of the universe, Hubble’s Constant.” One of the foremost awards in the field of cosmology, the prize honors a leading cosmologist, astronomer, astrophysicist or scientific philosopher for theoretical, analytical, conceptual or observational discoveries leading to fundamental advances in our understanding of the universe,” according to the Gruber Foundation.

Stephan Meyer, professor in astronomy & astrophysics, received a share of the prize in 2006 as a member of the Cosmic Background Explorer Team “for studies confirming that our universe was born in a hot Big Bang.” He repeated the feat in 2012 as a member of the Wilkinson Microwave Anistropy Probe, which was honored for “exquisite measurements of anisotropies in the relic radiation from the Big Bang—the Cosmic Microwave Background.”

Read the news release about the cosmology prize here.