RAS Fellow Duncan Lorimer shares Shaw Prize

Duncan Lorimer FRAS, Professor and Interim Chair of Physics and Astronomy and Associate Dean for Research at Eberly College of Arts and Sciences at West Virginia University is a joint recipient of the 2023 Shaw Prize in Astronomy, awarded for the discovery of fast radio bursts (FRBs).

The Shaw Prizes were established in 2004 by philanthropist Run Run Shaw and are considered the “Nobels of the East”, recognising global excellence in life sciences and medicine, mathematical sciences, and astronomy.

Lorimer receives his award along with Matthew Bailes, Director of the Australian Research Council (ARC) Centre of Excellence for Gravitational Wave Discovery, and Maura McLaughlin, Eberly Family Distinguished Professor at the Department of Physics and Astronomy, West Virginia University.

The three scientists discovered the first FRB in 2007, deducing its extreme distance, small size and enormous energy. FRBs are some of the most extreme events in astronomy, with intense bursts of radio emission in a few thousandths of a second that have as much energy as the Sun emits over several days. The bursts originate from sources smaller than the Earth, mostly in distant galaxies, and as yet there is no clear explanation for their origin, with ideas ranging from highly-magnetised neutron stars to merging black holes. Bailes, Lorimer and McLaughlin also suggest they can probe extreme conditions and the distribution of matter in the universe.

Lorimer was born in Darlington in the UK, completed his undergraduate degree at Cardiff University, and his PhD at the University of Manchester in 1994. He held posts in Manchester, MPIfR in Germany and Cornell, and has been at West Virginia University since 2006. Lorimer and McLaughlin are married with three children.

Professor Mike Edmunds, President of the Royal Astronomical Society, said:

“I am really delighted that Duncan, his wife Maura, and Matthew have shared this prestigious prize. I remember Duncan as a keen and engaging undergraduate at Cardiff University, and have followed his career with interest. Their research has shown both innovation and tenacity, and I offer my sincerest congratulations.”

Submitted by Robert Massey on Wed, 31/05/2023 - 15:32