Prof. Bernard F. Schutz, Founding Director of the AEI, retires as director and dedicates his future work to research and big data

Date: 
October 06th 2014


Prof. Bernard F. Schutz
Director at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI), Head of the Division Astrophysical Relativity.
Professor of Physics and Astronomy, Cardiff University, Wales, UK.
Honorary Professor of Physics, Leibniz University, Hannover, Germany.
Honorary Professor of Physics, Potsdam University, Potsdam, Germany.

© N. Michalke/Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute/AEI)

For almost 20 years, Prof. Bernard F. Schutz has played a key role in the international success of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics. His tenure as a Director of the institute has now come to an end, but this certainly does not equate to retirement. He will remain associated with his Institute as an Emeritus Director, and at the same time take up a part-time professorship at Cardiff University.  “I will be able to dedicate myself completely to research, the Open Access movement and to the Data Innovation Institute, which has recently been founded at Cardiff University”, says Prof. Schutz, describing his plans for the future.

As a founding director of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics/Albert Einstein Institute (together with Prof. Dr. Jürgen Ehlers), Prof. Schutz has been instrumental in revitalizing research in the field of General Relativity in Germany since 1995. At the AEI, Prof. Schutz lead the Astrophysical Relativity department. His work in theoretical astrophysics - studies on theoretical calculations of gravitational wave signals, and the development of methods for analysing gravitational wave signals – have made him one of the internationally leading experts in the field of general relativity research.

Prof. Schutz was - and is - a vital part of the effort to foster productive cooperation between theoretical and experimental astrophysicists worldwide. He played a key role in establishing the field of gravitational wave astronomy, which today is on the brink of a completely now kind of astronomical observation with the observatories GEO600, LIGO, Virgo and the future space-based mission eLISA.

Prof. Schutz is also heavily involved in the Open Access movement, with its goal of making scientific results publicly available on the internet for free. To this end, he founded the Open Access journal Living Reviews in Relativity. This successful format has been adopted by many other publications in different areas of research, ranging from astronomy to political science.

Bernard F. Schutz was born in the US. In 1967 he graduated B.S. in Physics at the Clarkson University, Potsdam, NY and obtained his PhD in Physics at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, CA in 1971. During his time at Caltech, the various applications of General relativity were very much a hot topic, and came to fascinate Bernard Schutz. In the mid 1980’s Prof. James Hough of the University of Glasgow convinced Bernard Schutz to go into gravitational wave research. Since then he has concentrated more and more on this subject and has significantly shaped the field of research. Today, the value of gravitational wave astronomy is universally accepted. Prof Schutz, through his diplomatic skill and his huge international experience, has made major contributions in building up the international network of gravitational wave observatories and tight cooperation with other branches of astronomical research.

Prof. Bernard F. Schutz has received many awards for his scientific work. He was awarded the Amaldi Gold Medal of the Italian Society of General Relativity and Gravitation, and he received an honorary Doctorate of Science from the University of Glasgow, Prof. Schutz has been elected a member of three learned academies: the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina,  the Learned Society of Wales, and the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences, Uppsala. He is in addition a  fellow of a number of academic societies: the American Physical Society, the Institute of Physics (UK), the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation, and  (an Honorary Fellow) of the Royal Astronomical Society. He also received the Communitas Prize of the Max Planck Society for his work on Open Access.

Prof. Bernard F. Schutz will be succeeded by Prof. Dr. Alessandra Bounanno.