Richard A. Isaacson Award in Gravitational-Wave Science

This award recognizes outstanding contributions in gravitational-wave physics, gravitational-wave astrophysics, and the technologies that enable this science.

The annual award consists of $5,000, a certificate, travel reimbursement and a registration waiver to attend the APS April Meeting to give an invited talk and accept the award.

Rules and eligibility

Any scientist or engineer who has made outstanding contributions to gravitational-wave physics and/or gravitational-wave astrophysics, or to the technologies which enable gravitational-wave science, is eligible. It is preferred that the award be given to a single person, but if deemed appropriate by the selection committee, the award may be shared by two or more people when all recipients have contributed roughly equally to the work being honored. Nominations will be considered for three review cycles provided the nominator re-certifies the nomination before the next deadline.

Process and selection

A nomination consists of:

  • The nominee’s name, institution, and contact information
  • A suggested citation (usually citations do not include the person’s name, and start with “For...”. See the APS prize and award recipients page for examples. Limit the citation to 300 characters or less, including spaces)
  • A nomination letter evaluating the nominee's qualifications in the light of the particular features of the prize or award and identifying the specific work or achievement to be recognized
  • At least two, but no more than four, letters of support
  • Complete a provided demographics form (if known/wish to specify age, gender, race, and ethnicity of the nominee).
  • The nominee’s CV or biosketch (optional)
  • A list of the nominee’s most important publications (optional)
  • Up to five reprints or preprints (optional)

All files must be written in English and uploaded in PDF format. Letters must be on letterhead, dated, and signed physically or with an electronic signature. Include the name of the nominee in the filenames.

Establishment and support

This award has been made possible through the generous support of Kip S. Thorne and Rainer Weiss. It honors the contributions of Richard Isaacson, retired Program Director of Gravitational Physics at the National Science Foundation, to the development of LIGO and to the entire field of gravitational-wave physics.

Recent recipients

Manuela Campanelli

2024 recipient

For extraordinary contributions to and leadership in the understanding and simulation of merging binaries of compact objects in strong-field gravity.

Emanuele Berti

2023 recipient

For contributions to gravitational-wave science through groundbreaking studies of black hole quasinormal modes, higher multipole radiation, astrophysical detection rates, spin evolution, and tests of general relativity, and for leadership in preparing impactful white papers and review articles.

Peter Fritschel

2022 recipient

For over three decades of key contributions to instrumentation for gravitational-wave detectors, and in particular for scientific leadership in the design and commissioning of Advanced LIGO, enabling the first detection of gravitational waves and the many detections that followed.

Beverly K. Berger

2021 recipient

For supporting and expanding the community of scientists engaged in gravitational-wave research, and for fostering an international network of researchers devoted to theory and experimentation.

Bernard Schutz

2020 recipient

For pioneering and decisive contributions to the development and successful implementation of analysis techniques required to detect and interpret gravitational-wave signals.

See all recipients

The membership of APS is diverse and global, and the nominees and recipients of APS Honors should reflect that diversity so that all are recognized for their impact on our community. Nominations of members belonging to groups traditionally underrepresented in physics, such as women, LGBT+ scientists, scientists who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), disabled scientists, scientists from institutions with limited resources, and scientists from outside the United States, are especially encouraged.

Nominees for and holders of APS Honors (prizes, awards, and fellowship) and official leadership positions are expected to meet standards of professional conduct and integrity as described in the APS Ethics Guidelines. Violations of these standards may disqualify people from consideration or lead to revocation of honors or removal from office.

Richard A. Isaacson Award in Gravitational-Wave Science

Nominations deadline
June 3, 2024

Join your Society

If you embrace scientific discovery, truth and integrity, partnership, inclusion, and lifelong curiosity, this is your professional home.