Physicist elected foreign member of the Royal Society

Author: Iqbal Pittalwala
April 22, 2019

Barry Barish, a distinguished professor of physics at UC Riverside, has been elected a foreign member of the Royal Society for his exceptional contribution to science.


Barish was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics “for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves,” along with American physicists Rainer Weiss and Kip S. Thorne. 

Nobel laureat Barry Barish
Nobel laureat Barry Barish. (Stan Lim/UCR.)

On Sept. 14, 2015, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO, detected for the first time gravitational waves predicted by Albert Einstein more than 100 years ago. A collision between two black holes generated the waves, which took 1.3 billion years to arrive at the LIGO detector. Barish brought the LIGO project to completion, enabling the first observation of this phenomenon. Under his leadership, LIGO evolved into the exquisitely sensitive instrument that made the first-ever detections of gravitational waves. 


Barish received his B.A. and Ph.D. at UC Berkeley, has been a Caltech faculty member since 1963, and joined the UC Riverside faculty in 2018. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and has received many other awards, including the Fudan-Zhongzhi Science Award (China), Princess of Asturias Prize for Science and Technology (Spain), Giuseppe and Vanna Cocconi Prize from the European Physical Society, the Enrico Fermi Prize from the Italian Physical Society, and the Klopsteg Award from the American Association of Physics Teachers. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Bologna, the University of Florida, and the University of Glasgow. He has been inducted as honorary academician into the Royal Academy of European Doctors, based in Spain.


The Royal Society announcement can be found here.