Gunn awarded major cosmology prize

Princeton astrophysicist James Gunn has been awarded the 2005 Cosmology Prize of the Peter Gruber Foundation, which honors groundbreaking contributions in the field of cosmology.

The award, which carries a $200,000 prize, will be presented to Gunn on Nov. 4 at Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, where Nicholas Copernicus completed his early education.

Gunn, the Eugene Higgins Professor of Astronomy, is a leader in understanding the origin, development and current structure of the universe. In its prize citation, the Gruber Foundation noted Gunn's "central contributions to the theoretical, observational and instrumental development of modern cosmology."

"He has set the highest standards for the field and provided the ideas and the data to inspire new generations of cosmologists," the citation added.

Gunn's early theoretical work helped establish the current understanding of how galaxies form and properties of the space between galaxies. He also suggested important observational tests to confirm the presence of dark matter in galaxies. Much of Gunn's later work has involved leadership in major observational projects. He developed plans for one of the first uses of digital camera technology for space observation, a project that led to the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, the most extensive three-dimensional mapping of the universe ever undertaken.

James Gunn's record of achievement over more than four decades is remarkable," said Peter Gruber, chairman of the foundation. "He has had a profound and innovative influence on the field."

Gunn, who joined the Princeton faculty in 1968, has won numerous awards for his contributions to cosmology. Earlier this year, he was awarded the 2005 Crafoord Prize, a rare honor in the field, along with Princeton colleague James Peebles. He also recently received the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship, which is the highest honor of the American Astronomical Society, and the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society of London.

More information on the Cosmology Prize can be found on the Gruber Foundation Web site.