Shapiro wins 2017 Bethe Prize

Siv Schwink
10/4/2016

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.

Recent News

  • In the Media

A second solar farm planned in Savoy will put the University of Illinois in the lead among American universities in terms of solar energy, a top campus proponent says.

The campus is moving ahead with a 55-acre solar farm along the north side of Curtis Road, between First and Neil streets in Savoy, about a mile south of the first 21-acre farm on Windsor Road.

Physics Professor Scott Willenbrock, who recently served as a provost's fellow for sustainability, briefed the Academic Senate about the project Monday, saying it will help the campus meet its goal of generating 5 percent of its energy needs from renewable sources. That target was part of the Illinois Climate Action Plan, known as iCap.

  • Research
  • Biological Physics

A previously unappreciated interaction in the genome turns out to have possibly been one of the driving forces in the emergence of advanced life, billions of years ago.

This discovery began with a curiosity for retrotransposons, known as “jumping genes,” which are DNA sequences that copy and paste themselves within the genome, multiplying rapidly. Nearly half of the human genome is made up of retrotransposons, but bacteria hardly have them at all.

Nigel Goldenfeld, Swanlund Endowed Chair of Physics and leader of the Biocomplexity research theme at the IGB, and Thomas Kuhlman, a former physics professor at Illinois who is now at University of California, Riverside, wondered why this is.“We thought a really simple thing to try was to just take one (retrotransposon) out of my genome and put it into the bacteria just to see what would happen,” Kuhlman said. “And it turned out to be really quite interesting.”

  • Research
  • High Energy Physics
  • Particle Physics
The lead ion run is under way. On 8 November at 21:19, the four experiments at the Large Hadron Collider - ALICE, ATLAS, CMS and LHCb - recorded their first collisions of lead nuclei since 2015. For three weeks and a half, the world’s biggest accelerator will collide these nuclei, comprising 208 protons and neutrons, at an energy of 5.02 teraelectronvolts (TeV) for each colliding pair of nucleons (protons and neutrons). This will be the fourth run of this kind since the collider began operation. In 2013 and 2016, lead ions were collided with protons in the LHC.

Anne Sickles is co-convener of the ATLAS Heavy Ion Working Group, which will use these data.
  • Outreach
  • Quantum Information Science
  • Atomic, Molecular, and Optical Physics
  • Quantum Physics
  • Quantum Computing

A two-day summit in Chicago taking place November 8 and 9 has brought together leading experts in quantum information science to advance U.S. efforts in what’s been called the next technological “space race”—and to position Illinois at the forefront of that race. The inaugural Chicago Quantum Summit, hosted by the Chicago Quantum Exchange, includes high-level representation from Microsoft, IBM, Alphabet Inc.’s Google, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign recently joined the Chicago Quantum Exchange as a core member, making it one of the largest quantum information science (QIS) collaborations in the world. The exchange was formed last year as an alliance between the University of Chicago and the two Illinois-based national laboratories, Argonne and Fermilab.

Representing the U of I at the summit are physics professors Brian DeMarco, Paul Kwiat, and Dale Van Harlingen, who are key players in the planned Illinois Quantum Information Science and Technology Center (IQUIST) on the U of I campus. The U of I news bureau announced last week the university’s $15-million commitment to the new center, which will form a collaboration of physicists, engineers, and computer scientists to develop new algorithms, materials, and devices to advance QIS.