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Nobel Laureate Barry Barish Named President Emeritus Professor of Physics at Stony Brook University |

Barry Barish, Ph.D.

Professor Barish will speak at the inaugural symposium of the CN Yang Symposium Series on Tuesday, September 6 at 4:30 p.m. ET

Stony Brook, NYSeptember 6, 2022 at 4:30 p.m. ET– World-renowned experimental physicist and Nobel laureate Barry Barish, PhD, will join Stony Brook University to serve as the inaugural Distinguished Endowed Chair in Physics beginning in the fall semester of 2023. Professor Barish shared the award Nobel Prize in Physics 2017 for the observation of gravitational waves with the historic LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory) experiment. This research proved the ripples in the fabric of space and time that were predicted by Albert Einstein 100 years earlier. Professor Barish is also Ronald and Maxine Linde Professor Emeritus of Physics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

While at Stony Brook University, Professor Barish will teach graduate students and serve as an advisor to Physics and Astronomy Department Chair and Professor Emeritus, Chang Kee Jung. Professor Barish will also provide advice on improving Stony Brook’s involvement in gravitational astronomy research.

Professor Barish is the first featured speaker in the Department of Physics and Astronomy’s new CN Yang Symposium Series. The series pays tribute to fellow Nobel Laureate in Physics and Stony Brook University faculty member, Professor C. N. Yang. Professor Yang is the namesake of the CN Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics at Stony Brook. The title of Professor Barish’s colloquium is “Probing the Universe with Gravitational Waves”. To watch live, please visit here today, September 6, at 4:30 p.m. ET.

“Stony Brook University has a deep heritage of discovery, research, and innovation that expands our world, changes public perspective, and helps us better understand the cosmos. During his impressive career, Professor Barry Barish has done all three,” said Maurie McInnis, President of Stony Brook University. “His position as President’s Distinguished Chair in Physics is a testament to Stony Brook’s proven excellence in physics and astronomy, as well as this university’s commitment to staying at the forefront of knowledge. We are honored to welcome Professor Barish to campus and excited for the many students and researchers who will be able to learn from this historic physicist.

“This is such exciting news for Stony Brook,” said executive vice president and provost Carl Lejuez. “We have a rich history in physics, which began with CN Yang and has continued over the past several decades. The welcome addition of Professor Barish to our Department of Physics and Astronomy reflects the role of Stony University Brook as a leading research center at the forefront of discoveries that help us understand our universe.

“Prof Barish is an exceptional physicist and what he has accomplished with the LIGO experiment is phenomenal,” said Prof Jung, who has known Prof Barish for more than 30 years. “His work led not only to the discovery of gravitational waves predicted by Einstein’s theory of general relativity, but also to the observation of two black holes merging in real time, which opened up a new field of observational astronomy based on gravitational waves. Therefore, his contributions and influence in science go beyond particle physics, reaching astronomy, astrophysics and cosmology. I am exceptionally enthusiastic that “He joins the Stony Brook faculty. This is a historic appointment for Stony Brook. He will be an inspiration to our students, postdocs and faculty.”

“Stony Brook has long been a very special place for physics and I am delighted to help celebrate that history by giving the inaugural CN Yang Lecture,” said Professor Barish. “Even more, I look forward to joining the Faculty of Physics in 2023, where I will continue to pursue cutting-edge questions in physics.”

Professor Barish will continue his affiliations with Caltech and the University of California, Riverside.

About Professor Barry Barish

Professor Barry Barish was awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his seminal contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves”. He shared the prize with American physicists Rainer Weiss and Kip S. Thorne.

Barish received his bachelor’s and doctorate degrees in physics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1957 and 1962, respectively. He was a researcher at Berkeley from 1962 to 1963, then became a researcher at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). He joined the faculty at the University of California, Riverside in 2018.

Barish began his career in high energy physics. He worked on experiments at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and Fermilab, where he was among the first to observe the weak neutral current, central to the electroweak unification theories of Glashow, Salam and Weinberg. In the 1980s he led MACRO, an experiment that searched for exotic particles called magnetic monopoles and also studied penetrating cosmic rays, including neutrino measurements that provided important confirmatory evidence that neutrinos have mass and oscillate. He also led a team to design an experiment for the Super Superconducting Collider (SSC), a giant particle accelerator to be built in Texas, but the US Congress canceled that project in 1993.

After the cancellation of the SSC, Barish became LIGO’s principal investigator in 1994. The National Science Foundation (NSF) in its 1992 and 1993 reviews of LIGO had expressed doubts about its feasibility and management structure. Barish made technical changes to LIGO’s design, such as the use of solid-state lasers, which were more powerful than the argon gas lasers originally planned. LIGO was primarily run as a small collaboration between Caltech and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Barish realized that LIGO would need permanent staff and many more scientists to help with what was an extremely technically demanding project. In 1997 he established the LIGO Science Collaboration (LSC), a team of hundreds of scientists from around the world. That same year, Barish became director of LIGO. Barish’s changes pleased the NSF, which funded LIGO at a much higher level, and was credited with doing much to make LIGO a success.

Construction began on LIGO’s two interferometers in Livingston, Louisiana and Hanford, Washington, in 1994, and observations began in 2002. Although LIGO detected no gravity waves in its early years, Barish pushed through plans for an upgraded version, Advanced LIGO, that would be. Advanced LIGO was approved by the NSF in 2004, and it was fully installed in 2014. On September 14, 2015, Advanced LIGO made the first detection of gravity waves from a pair of interlocking black holes 1.3 billion light years away. .

From 2005 to 2013, Barish served as director of the Global Design Effort of the International Linear Collider (ILC), a 31 kilometer (19 mile) long linear particle accelerator project. The ILC is the highest priority future project for particle physics in the world.

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About Stony Brook University

Stony Brook University, the flagship of the State University of New York (SUNY) system, goes far beyond the expectations of today’s public universities. With nearly 27,000 students, 2,800 faculty members, more than 200,000 alumni, a leading academic medical center and 18 NCAA Division I athletic programs, Stony Brook is a distinguished center of innovation in research-intensive dedicated to tackling the world’s greatest challenges. The university embraces its mission to provide comprehensive undergraduate, graduate, and professional education of the highest quality, and is ranked among the top 35 public universities by Forbes and one of the top 100 universities in the country according to the US News & World Report List of Best Colleges. Fostering a commitment to academic research and intellectual endeavours, Stony Brook’s membership in the Association of American Universities (AAU) places it among the top 65 research institutions in North America. The university’s distinguished faculty have won prestigious awards such as the Nobel Prize, Pulitzer Prize, Indianapolis Prize for Animal Conservation, Abel Prize, and the first Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics. Stony Brook is responsible for co-managing Brookhaven National Laboratory for the US Department of Energy – one of eight universities with a role in running a national laboratory. Providing economic growth to neighboring communities and the wider geographic region, the university totals an impressive $7.23 billion in increased economic output on Long Island. Follow us on Facebook ( and Twitter (@stonybrooku).

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