Barry Barish - Headshot

Barry Barish

Barry C. Barish is the Nobel Prize Winning former director of the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). Barish is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society, of which he served as President in 2011. He holds honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Bologna, the University of Florida, University of Glasgow, and Southern Methodist University.

On September 14, 2015, LIGO made the first-ever observation of ripples in the fabric of space and time—or gravitational waves—arriving at the earth from the collision of two black holes in the distant universe. The discovery confirmed a major prediction of Albert Einstein’s 1915 general theory of relativity and provides a new way to observe the cosmos. The observatory has since made several more binary black hole merger detections, and more recently detected a binary neutron star merger with a large number of electromagnetic follow-up observations confirming consistent with the kilonova picture. In recognition for his work with LIGO, Dr. Barish was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2017, along with Kip S. Thorne and Rainer Weiss, “for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves.”