Shapiro wins 2017 Bethe Prize

Siv Schwink

Illinois Professor of Physics and of Astronomy Stuart Shapiro
Illinois Professor of Physics and of Astronomy Stuart Shapiro
University of Illinois Professor of Physics and Astronomy Stuart Shapiro has been selected for the 2017 Hans A. Bethe Prize of the American Physical Society (APS). The Bethe Prize is conferred annually to a scholar who has made outstanding contributions to theory, experiment, or observation in astrophysics, nuclear physics, nuclear astrophysics, or closely related fields.

The citation reads, “For seminal and sustained contributions to understanding physical processes in compact object astrophysics, and advancing numerical relativity.”

Working at the intersection of theoretical astrophysics and numerical relativity, Shapiro has made significant contributions to our theoretical understanding of several long-standing, fundamental problems in astrophysics and general relativity. His broad research interests include the physics of black holes and neutron stars, gravitational collapse, the generation of gravitational waves, relativistic hydrodynamics and magnetohydrodynamics, and the dynamics of large N-body dynamical systems. Using simulations and visualizations generated on supercomputers, Shapiro’s group has shed light on accretion onto compact objects, binary black hole and neutron star inspiral and coalescence, the formation of black holes,  and neutrino and dark matter astrophysics.

Shapiro is perhaps most noted for his ground-breaking simulations on the emitted radiation spectrum from gas accreting onto black holes and neutron stars; the disruption and consumption of stars in star clusters containing a central supermassive black hole; the formation of a supermassive black hole at the center of a galaxy or quasar from the collapse of a relativistic collisionless gas or supermassive star;  and gravitational waves and electromagnetic signals from merging compact binaries.

Long interested in gravitational wave generation, Shapiro and his group provided some of the foundational theoretical work that contributed to the eventual detection and interpretation of gravitational waves by LIGO.

Shapiro is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and of the Institute of Physics in the U.K. He is a recipient of numerous honors, including a first prize in the IBM Supercomputing Competition (1991), the Forefronts of Large-Scale Computation Award (1990), the IBM Supercomputing Competition Award (1990), a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship (1989-90), an Association of American Publishers Award (1984), and an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (1979).

Shapiro received his bachelor’s degrees in astronomy from Harvard in 1969 and his master’s and doctoral degrees in astrophysical sciences from Princeton University in 1971 and 1973 respectively. He served on the astronomy and physics faculty at Cornell University from 1973 to1995, before joining the faculty in Physics and Astronomy at Illinois as a full professor in 1996.

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Associate Head for Graduate Programs and Professor S. Lance Cooper has been awarded the 2018 Excellence in Graduate Student Mentoring Award of the Office of the Provost at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

One of the Campus Awards for Excellence in Instruction conferred annually at the campus’s Celebration of Teaching Excellence, this accolade recognizes sustained excellence in graduate student mentoring; innovative approaches to graduate advising; major impact on graduate student scholarship and professional development; and other contributions in the form of courses and curricula, workshops, or similar initiatives. Cooper was presented with the award on April 12, 2018.

The University of Illinois has received a three-year, $1 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation to continue funding for the Sloan University Center of Exemplary Mentoring at Illinois. The program, started in 2015, supports underrepresented minority doctoral students in science, technology, engineering and math fields and is one of nine UCEMs throughout the country.

The UCEM emphasizes mentoring, professional development and social activities to build a community of scholars. The center hosts an extensive orientation program for new students, workshops and seminars in addition to financial support in the form of scholarships. The center also works with departments to set up a mentoring team for each scholar and monitors academic and research progress.

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Sir Anthony Leggett, winner of the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physics and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Professor of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, turned 80 years old on March 26. To celebrate, the Department of Physics is hosting a physics symposium in his honor, with participants coming from around the world. The symposium, “AJL@80: Challenges in Quantum Foundations, Condensed Matter Physics and Beyond,” is targeted for physicists and requires pre-registeration. It begins tonight, Thursday evening, and will go through Saturday evening (March 29 – 31, 2018).

In conjunction with the symposium, two public presentations will be offered back-to-back on Friday, March 30, starting at 7:30 p.m., at the I Hotel and Conference Center’s Illini Ballroom. (1900 S. First St., Champaign). There is no admission fee and registration is not required—all are welcome.

  • In the Media
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In a paper in Nano Letters ("Optical Voltage Sensing Using DNA Origami"), a research team, led by Keyser, Philip Tinnefeld from the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry at Technical University Braunschweig, and Aleksei Aksimentiev from the University of Illinois at urbana-Champaign, has now reported for the first time, that a voltage can be read out in a nanopore with a dedicated Förster resonance energy transfer (FRET) sensor on a DNA origami.