Saul Perlmutter
Professor of Physics
Department of Physics
(510) 642-3596

Research Expertise and Interest

cosmology, dark energy, physics, astrophysics experiments, observational astrophysics, supernovae, accelerating universe


Saul Perlmutter is the Franklin W. and Karen Weber Dabby Chair holder in the Physics Department at UC Berkeley. He graduated from Harvard magna cum laude in 1981, received his PhD from UC Berkeley in 1986. He joined the UC Berkeley Physics Department in 2004. He is also an astrophysicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and leader of the international Supernova Cosmology Project, which first announced the results indicating that the universe will last forever, with its expansion ever accelerating. In 1996, he received the American Astronomical Society’s Henri Chretien Award. Perlmutter has also written popular articles for Sky and Telescope magazine and has appeared in recent Public Broadcasting System and BBC documentaries on astronomy and cosmology. Professor Perlmutter, who led one of two teams that simultaneously discovered the accelerating expansion of the universe, was awarded the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics, which he shares with two members of the rival team. He was honored with the 2015 Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics.

In Research News

A rendering of WFIRST
February 18, 2016

Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley Scientists to participate in new NASA space telescope project that will explore mysteries of dark energy, hunt for distant planets and retrace universe's history during 6-year mission.

November 10, 2014

Two UC Berkeley scientists — structural biologist Jennifer Doudna and physicist Saul Perlmutter — were named 2015 Breakthrough Prize winners in life sciences and physics, respectively, at a star-studded gala in Silicon Valley.

BIDS photo, Tim O'Reilly, O'Reilly Media, and Berkeley postdoctoral fellow Kathryn Huff
December 13, 2013

A throng turned out for Thursday’s high-spirited launch of the Berkeley Institute for Data Science. Designed to help researchers across the disciplines harness data in order to spur discoveries and create knowledge, the center for data-related teaching and collaboration will be housed in Doe Library.

November 13, 2013

In a world awash in data, UC Berkeley is meeting the flood head-on by establishing a new institute to support faculty, researchers and students in their efforts to mine this information in areas as diverse as astronomy and economics, genetics and demography.

July 6, 2013

Saul Perlmutter, astrophysicist at the Berkeley Lab and Professor of Physics at UC Berkeley, is profiled in The Guardian's "Rational Hero" series.

January 9, 2013

The Supernova Cosmology Project, based at Berkeley Lab and headed by UC Berkeley physicist and Nobel Laureate Saul Perlmutter, has discovered the most distant supernova yet that can be used in cosmological studies. Announced at the American Astronomical Society meeting, it will help answer questions about dark energy and the fate of the universe.

December 4, 2012

A $2.1 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation to the University of California at Berkeley, through the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics (BCCP), will fund the development of revolutionary technologies for BigBOSS, a project now in the proposal stage designed to study dark energy with unprecedented precision.

October 25, 2012

With several of its namesake’s descendants on hand for the occasion, UC Berkeley’s Peder Sather Center for Advanced Study is celebrating its launch today (Thursday) with a two-day campus conference.

December 15, 2011

Thanks to images obtained over the past nine years by the Hubble Space Telescope, UC Berkeley astronomers were able to narrow down the identity of the companion star to a supernova first observed in August. It was not a bright red giant or helium star, but probably a more modest star like the sun, a subgiant or even a white dwarf.

November 2, 2011

Newly minted Nobel Laureate Saul Perlmutter is among the physicists and astronomers interviewed in the premier episode of a four-part NOVA series, “The Fabric of the Cosmos,” which aired November 2, 2011 on PBS stations around the country. In the San Francisco Bay Area, the one-hour episode was viewed on KQED-TV at 9 p.m.

October 4, 2011

For Berkeley physicist Saul Perlmutter, Tuesday, Oct. 4 began before 3 a.m. with a press call from Sweden, and soon a meaningful moment with his sleepy but excited 8-year-old. Then — quickly and inevitably — came the deluge of phone calls and e-mails, celebratory events and photo ops. And, it goes without saying, a coveted parking pass.

October 4, 2011

Saul Perlmutter, UC Berkeley professor of physics and LBNL senior scientist, will share the 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics with two other scientists, including former UC Berkeley postdoc Adam Riess, for their discovery that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. This discovery in 1998 led to the realization that the universe is largely composed of an enigmatic “dark energy.”

February 19, 2011

Berkeley Lab’s Saul Perlmutter has won the Einstein Medal presented annually by the Albert Einstein Society of Bern, Switzerland, for his role in discovering the accelerating expansion of the universe by observing very distant supernovae.

Update Faculty Profile