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Hopkins astrophysicist wins prestigious $3 million award

An astrophysicist at Johns Hopkins University won the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics Sunday for his work on a description of the contents, dynamics and shape of the universe.

Professor Charles L. Bennett was awarded the $3 million prize, to be shared by his team, at a ceremony in Palo Alto, Calif.

Bennett led the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) space mission in their work establishing the Standard Model of Cosmology, a precise physics-based description of the universe.

“The WMAP mission took us far beyond our physical reach,” Bennett said in a statement. “By carefully measuring the oldest light in the universe we determined the key properties of our universe. … We are humbled but pleased that our research has been recognized by the Breakthrough Prize Foundation.”

Bennett has also received the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal for his role with WMAP.

The Breakthrough Prize has been awarded since 2012 and Bennett is the third Hopkins faculty member to receive it. In 2013, Bert Vogelstein of Hopkins Medicine received the award in the life sciences category for his work on cancer genomics and tumor suppressor genes. In 2014, Professor Thomas J. Barber won the fundamental physics award for discovery of the acceleration of the universe.

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