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WKU astronomer has played role in Nobel-winning research on universe

WKU astronomer Louis-Gregory Strolger can add the following entry to his vita or Facebook profile – “worked with three Nobel Prize-winning scientists.”

Dr. Louis-Gregory Strolger

Dr. Strolger was notified Tuesday morning that three of his colleagues — Saul Perlmutter of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of California at Berkeley; Brian Schmidt of the Australian National University; and Adam Riess of The Johns Hopkins University and the Space Telescope Science Institute – had won the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics for their discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating.

“I have a range of emotions right now,” Dr. Strolger said Tuesday afternoon. “It really hasn’t sunk in yet.”

The astronomers made their discovery in 1998 and are continuing research into the role dark energy plays in cosmic expansion. Dr. Strolger joined the research as a graduate student and worked with Riess at the Space Telescope Science Institute.

“I received a note of thanks from Adam this morning,” said Dr. Strolger, an associate professor in WKU’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Since coming to WKU in 2005, Dr. Strolger and his students have played a significant role in measuring and quantifying data in the study of dark energy and supernovae.

The astronomers knew early on that dark energy, one of the biggest mysteries in physics, was a big deal, Dr. Strolger said, “but it sort of caught fire” as more scientists became interested in the research.

Even though his name isn’t on the award, Dr. Strolger takes a great sense of pride in the Nobel-winning research. “It’s the quintessential award and a reaffirmation that everything you’ve done up to this point is good. It’s just amazing to have that sort of recognition. How many people can say they’ve worked with three Nobel Prize-winning scientists?”

Contact: Louis-Gregory Strolger, louis.strolger@wku.edu.

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