Beverly K. Berger (Ph.D., ‘72) has been selected to receive the 2021 American Physical Society (APS) Richard A. Isaacson Award in Gravitational-Wave Science, which recognizes outstanding contributions in gravitational-wave physics, gravitational-wave astrophysics, and the technologies that enable this science. Berger was cited for “supporting and expanding the community of scientists engaged in gravitational-wave research, and for fostering an international network of researchers devoted to theory and experimentation."
The award, which honors alumnus Richard Isaacson (Ph.D., ‘67), was established with funds donated by Nobel laureates Kip S. Thorne and Rainer Weiss to commemorate Isaacson’s impact on the study of gravitational waves. Isaacson’s research contributed to the theory of gravitational wave generation and propagation, and he later oversaw the development of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) during his career as Program Director of Gravitational Physics at the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Berger did her thesis work on cosmological graviton creation under Professor Emeritus Charles Misner. Her career included 24 years in the Physics Department at Oakland University (MI), where she served a term as department chair, and 10 years as Program Director for Gravitational Physics at the NSF. She is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and of the APS.
Within the APS, Berger worked to establish the Topical Group on Gravitation, which eventually became the Division of Gravitational Physics (DGRAV). She has twice served as DGRAV chair, and also led the APS Committee on the Status of Women in Physics in 2000.
She joined the LIGO Scientific Collaboration (LSC) in 2012 and is now part of the Stanford University LIGO Group.
The CMNS story, The Chirps Heard Round the World, describes the University of Maryland’s contributions to gravitational wave science. The short documentary film Mirrors That Hang on Glass Threads illuminates the scale and complexity of the LIGO detector, while LIGO Detection tells the story of the September 2015 event in the words of many LIGO scientists.
Other University of Maryland APS awardees in this cycle are Nick Poniatowski, who received the LeRoy Apker Award, and Steve Fetter, Dean of the Graduate School and Professor of Public Policy, who received the Leo Szilard Award.