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Caltech Physicist Marc Kamionkowski Named Winner of Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Marc Kamionkowski, the Robinson Professor of Theoretical Physics and Astrophysics at Caltech, has been named one of eight winners of the Ernest Orlando Lawrence Award. The announcement was made today by U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman in Washington, D.C.

The Lawrence Award honors scientists and engineers at mid-career for exceptional contributions in research and development that support the Department of Energy and its mission to advance the national, economic, and energy security of the United States. The award consists of a gold medal, a citation, and an honorarium of $50,000.

"These brilliant scientists and their varied and important research inspire us," Secretary Bodman said. "Their work reminds us of the importance of continued investment in science and the need for increased emphasis on basic research and math and science education programs."

Kamionkowski, who has been at Caltech since 1999, was cited as this year's sole winner in the physics category for describing how precise observations of the cosmic microwave background radiation can lead to deeper understanding of the origin and evolution of the universe. Kamionkowski and his collaborators have inspired a new generation of very sophisticated experiments that have begun the search for the signature of the cosmic gravitational-wave background.

He has also worked on particle dark matter, inflation, and cosmic acceleration, as well as neutrino and nuclear physics and astrophysics, large-scale-structure and galaxy formation, gravitational lensing, phase transitions in the early universe, alternative gravity theories, the first stars, the epoch of reionization, and stellar and high-energy astrophysics.

At Caltech, Kamionkowski is a member of the theoretical astrophysics group and the Moore Center for Theoretical Cosmology and Physics. He teaches classes in both physics and astronomy, including general relativity, cosmology, quantum mechanics, radiative processes, stellar structure and evolution, and the physics of stars.

A native of Cleveland, Kamionkowski earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1987 from Washington University and his doctorate in 1991 from The University of Chicago. He served a three-year postdoctorate at the Institute for Advanced Study and then joined the Columbia University faculty in 1994. He came to Caltech in 1999 as a full professor.

In addition to Kamionkowski, this year's winners are Paul Alivisatos, of the University of California at Berkeley and E.O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Moungi Bawendi, of MIT, jointly, for the materials research category (the winners of this joint award will share the honorarium); Malcolm J. Andrews, of Los Alamos National Laboratory, for the national security category; Arup K. Chakraborty, of MIT, for the life sciences category; My Hang V. Huynh, of Los Alamos National Laboratory, for the chemistry category; John Zachara, of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, for the environmental science and technology category; and Steven Zinkle, of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, for the nuclear technology category.

The Lawrence Award was established in 1959 to honor the memory of the late Dr. Lawrence, who invented the cyclotron (a particle accelerator) and after whom two major Energy Department laboratories at Berkeley and Livermore, California, are named. The Lawrence Awards, given in seven categories, will be presented at a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Additional information on the winners and their work is available on the Web at The DOE news release about the awards is at

Written by Robert Tindol

Caltech Media Relations