Physicist receives high honor from Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of Barcelona

Author: Iqbal Pittalwala
June 27, 2023

Physicist Barry C. Barish, a distinguished professor of physics and astronomy at UC Riverside who won the 2017 Nobel Prize in physics for the discovery of gravitational waves, has been elected a corresponding member of the Royal Academy of Sciences and Arts of Barcelona. Founded in 1764 as a private literary society to promote the arts and science, the Spanish academy is an association of scholars in science and its applications.

Nobel laureat Barry Barish
Barry Barish.

Barish will give a talk to the academy’s membership at its annual meeting next spring.

Barish joined the UCR faculty in 2018. He earned his bachelor’s degree in physics in 1957 and his doctorate in experimental particle physics in 1962 from UC Berkeley. He joined Caltech as a postdoc in 1963, became a professor in 1966, and was appointed Linde Professor of Physics in 1991. He led the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory, or LIGO, effort from its inception through the final design stages, and in subsequent discoveries. In 1997, he created the LIGO Scientific Collaboration, which enables more than 1,000 collaborators worldwide to participate in LIGO.

He has served on many important science committees, including co-chairing the subpanel of the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel that developed a long-range plan for U.S. high-energy physics in 2001. He chaired the Commission of Particles and Fields and the U.S. Liaison Committee to the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics and has also been active in a variety of international physics collaborations.

Barish is the recipient of 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 is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, which awarded him the Henry Draper Medal. From 2003 to 2010, he served as a presidential appointee to the National Science Board. 

He is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the American Physical Society, where he also served as president. He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Bologna, University of Florida, University of Glasgow, and Universitat de València in Spain. He has been inducted as honorary academician into the Royal Academy of European Doctors, based in Spain. He was elected a foreign member of the Royal Society in 2019. Last year, he won the Copernicus Prize, bestowed by the government of Poland.