black and white photo of Saul Perlmutter

Research Expertise and Interest

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

Research Description

Saul Perlmutter is a 2011 Nobel Laureate, sharing the prize in Physics for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe.   He is a professor of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, where he holds the Franklin W. and Karen Weber Dabby Chair, and a senior scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  He is the leader of the international Supernova Cosmology Project, and director of the Berkeley Institute for Data Science and executive director of the Berkeley Center for Cosmological Physics. His undergraduate degree was from Harvard and his PhD from UC Berkeley.  In addition to other awards and honors, he is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  Perlmutter has also written popular articles, and has appeared in numerous PBS, Discovery Channel, and BBC documentaries.  His interest in teaching  scientific-style critical thinking for scientists and non-scientists alike led to Berkeley courses on Sense and Sensibility and Science and Physics & Music.

In the News

Creating informed responses: Berkeley’s computing and data science in action

In a live webcast on Tuesday, April 7, an interdisciplinary cast of Berkeley faculty members joined Nobel laureate Saul Perlmutter, director of the Berkeley Institute for Data Science, and Michael Lu, dean of Berkeley’s School of Public Health, to discuss how data is guiding our society’s response to the pandemic and how more and better data is needed to help us emerge from the crisis.

Saul Perlmutter to lead WFIRST dark energy team

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.

Big turnout for launch of big-data center

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.

The Farthest Supernova Yet for Measuring Cosmic History

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.

Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Gives a Big Boost to BigBOSS

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.

Sather Center targets transatlantic research

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.

Closing in on cosmic mystery surrounding supernovas

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.

Perlmutter, Filippenko in NOVA special

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.

For Berkeley physicist, worldwide fame and campus parking

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.

Saul Perlmutter awarded 2011 Nobel Prize in Physics

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.”

Saul Perlmutter Wins the Einstein Medal

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.

Featured in the Media

Please note: The views and opinions expressed in these articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or positions of UC Berkeley.
March 26, 2024

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Saul Perlmutter, philosophy professor John Campbell, and social psychologist Robert MacCoun turned their course a on using scientific tools to approach everyday problems into a book.

September 24, 2021
Alexis Gravely
President Biden announced Wednesday the 30 science and technology leaders who will serve on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, a group of external advisers tasked with making science, technology and innovation policy recommendations to the White House and the president. The council includes 20 elected members of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine; five MacArthur "genius" fellows; two former Cabinet secretaries; and two Nobel laureates. It is also the most diverse council in its history, with women comprising half of the members and people of color and immigrants making up more than one-third. The members include Inez Fung, an atmospheric scientist and professor at the University of California, Berkeley and Saul Perlmutter, an astrophysicist and cosmologist who is a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, and director of the Berkeley Institute for Data Science. For more on this, see our story at Berkeley News
March 8, 2019
Stephen J. Dubner
In his Nobel Prize-winning work confirming that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, just as Einstein theorized, physics professor Saul Perlmutter was conducting experiments that were challenging, to say the least. And he had to persevere through years of failure. He talks about that process and what sustained him through it in this interview for Freakonomics Radio's "How to Be Creative" series. "One thing that's really interesting that it's important for people to hear sometimes is that a really tough, challenging problem is worth spending a lot of time on, and that you can be learning a lot while you're trying to get there," he says. At another point in the interview, he talks about the rivalry between teams working on the same problem. "It was highly secretive between each other in general. I'd say the competition with each other was a big deal but it's nothing like the competition with the ways in which the universe is trying to give you a hard time." Link to audio.
November 8, 2018
Joshua Tucker
Public Editor, a free online tool that anyone can use to get a credibility score on the content of news stories, began as a "sort of back-burner project" between Nobel Prize-winning physicist Saul Perlmutter and Nick Adams in 2015. At the time, Adams was a fellow at Berkeley's Institute for Data Science, which Professor Perlmutter continues to direct. Adams was developing a collaborative software program called TagWorks then, and Professor Perlmutter had asked him if he thought the software could be helpful in teaching students in his critical thinking course to find thinking errors in the news. "We started hashing out some designs," Adams says. "Once it become clear that some bad actors had weaponized news-sharing through social media to intentionally misinform voters, my nonprofit citizen science lab, the Goodly Labs, really kicked into high gear on the project."
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