September 26, 2011

Three named professorships awarded in Physics and Astronomy

Physics and Astronomy professors Charles Bennett, Adam Riess and Joseph Silk were honored together last week in recognition of their recently received endowed professorships and the remarkable work they have contributed to the fields of astronomy and astrophysics. The event took place Sept. 19 in the Bloomberg Center for Physics and Astronomy on the Homewood campus.

“Appointment to an endowed chair has been a coveted honor for distinguished faculty ever since the first professorships were created five centuries ago at the universities of Oxford and Cambridge,” noted Katherine Newman, the James B. Knapp Dean of the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, at the event celebrating the three faculty members. “Those who hold endowed chairs are leaders in their fields. They are the pioneers who will chart new courses of discovery and attract the brightest and most promising students. These faculty members bring added luster to the name of Johns Hopkins.”

Charles Bennett, the Alumni Centennial Professor in Physics and Astronomy, is one of the world’s leaders in the study of the cosmic microwave background radiation that fills the universe. A professor at Johns Hopkins since 2005, he has brought numerous accolades to the department in his short time here, including his being elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 2005 and receiving the National Academy of Sciences’ Henry Draper Medal in 2005, the Harvey Prize in 2006, the Comstock Prize in Physics in 2009 and the 2010 Shaw Prize in Astronomy (co-winner). His named professorship commemorates a century of achievement at Johns Hopkins, which celebrated its 100th birthday in 1976 with a year of events and a symposium that brought scholars from all over the world to Johns Hopkins.

Adam Riess, the Krieger-Eisenhower Professor in Physics and Astronomy, joined the department in 2006. He has played a critical role in discovering the nature of dark energy, which has offered a profound contribution to the human understanding of our universe. Among the honors he has garnered are the 2004 Sackler Prize, the 2006 Shaw Prize in Astronomy (co-winner), the 2007 Gruber Prize in Cosmology (co-winner), a 2008 MacArthur Fellowship and the 2011 Einstein Medal (co-winner). The Krieger-Eisenhower Professorship is a tribute to one of the university’s greatest benefactors, Zanvyl Krieger, and his close friendship with former JHU President Milton S. Eisenhower.

Joseph Silk, the Homewood Professor in Physics and Astronomy, is a widely respected veteran of his field who joined Johns Hopkins in 2010. Over his 40-year career, Silk has established himself as one of the world’s leading theoretical astrophysicists, having published more than 500 scholarly papers with more than 23,000 citations. Of his many awards and honors, he most recently received the 2011 Balzan Prize for his inspired work on the early universe. His professorship is named in honor of Arts and Sciences’ North Baltimore home and was established by the school’s Academic Council.