Nobel Laureate Adam Reiss to give free lecture on April 19

April 11, 2012

Adam G. Riess, the Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the Johns Hopkins University, member of the science staff at the Space Telescope Science Institute, and co-recipient of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, will present the Eberly Family Distinguished Lecture in Science at 2 p.m. on Thursday, April 19, in the HUB Auditorium on the University Park campus. This free public lecture, titled "Supernovae and the Discovery of the Accelerating Universe," is sponsored by the Penn State Eberly College of Science.

Riess's current research focuses on measuring the stability of dark energy -- a form of energy that is thought to permeate all of space and to accelerate the expansion of the universe -- and determining how this form of energy has changed with the evolution of the universe. He continues his observations using the Hubble Space Telescope to watch distant supernovae. Riess and his team also are using the Hubble Space Telescope to analyze pulsating stars in order to refine the measurement of the expansion rate of the universe.

The 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, which Reiss was awarded in recognition of his leadership of the High-z Supernova Search Team's 1998 discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe through observations of distant supernovae, is just one of many awards he has earned throughout his career. In 1998, at the age of 28, he led a study that reported startling evidence that the expansion of the universe is accelerating at an increasing rate rather than decelerating, as was commonly assumed. In recognition of this groundbreaking discovery, Riess was awarded the 2006 Shaw Prize in Astronomy. He also was a recipient of the Peter Gruber Foundation Cosmology Prize in 2007 for his contributions to the discovery of dark energy. In 2008, he shared in a $1 million fellowship grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. According to the foundation, this fellowship, known as the "genius grant" is given "not as a reward for past accomplishments but rather an investment in a person's originality, insight and potential." Riess was elected to the National Academy of Science in 2009 and received the Albert Einstein Medal in 2011.

Riess received a bachelor's degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992. He received master's and doctoral degrees in astrophysics in 1994 and 1996, respectively, from Harvard University. Riess was a Miller Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley from 1996 to 1999.

The Eberly Family Distinguished Lecture series was inaugurated in 2001 to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the renaming of the Eberly College of Science on March 17, 1990, in honor of one of its most generous benefactors, the Eberly Family of Uniontown, Pa. A 1986 commitment from the Eberly Family Charitable Trust created a $1 million endowed chair in each of the college's seven departments and provided funding for an endowed chair in science, an endowed professorship in biotechnology, and the Hobby-Eberly Telescope. That transforming gift has enabled the college to attract outstanding faculty members and students, and to enhance its missions of education, research and service.


  • Adam G. Riess, co-recipient of the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, will present the Eberly Family Distinguished Lecture in Science.

    IMAGE: Penn State

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Last Updated January 09, 2015