News Release

WVU Center for Gravitational Waves and Cosmology faculty on international team to receive the Honorary 2022 Berkeley Prize

Grant and Award Announcement

West Virginia University

Honored for their innovative work in the field of fast radio bursts utilizing the CHIME radio telescope, the international CHIME/FRB team will receive the 2022 Berkeley prize for its dramatic progress on fast radio bursts (FRBs).  

FRBs are brief and powerful flashes of radio waves with enigmatic origins, discovered in 2007 by WVU researcher, Dr. Duncan Lorimer, and his student, David Narkevic. Since its discovery in 2007, only about 140 had been found, until last year.  Thanks to the CHIME/FRB team, they discovered over 500 in just one year; the first year of CHIME’s operation.

CHIME (Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment) is an interferometric radio telescope at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in British Columbia, Canada.

Representing the WVU Center for Gravitational Waves and Cosmology, collaborators on the CHIME/FRB team include Dr. Kevin Bandura and Dr. Emmanuel Fonseca. 

Bandura is an Assistant Professor in the Lane Department of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering in the WVU Statler College of Engineering.  His research focuses on building wide-field radio astronomy instrumentation in order to better understand the universe.  His instrumentation expertise was critical to the CHIME project, further advancing the scientific community's understanding of the field of FRBs.  

Fonseca, Assistant Professor in WVU Physics and Astronomy, joined the WVU Center for Gravitational Waves and Cosmology in 2021.  He works as a radio astronomer with a specific focus of observing transient signals from neutron stars.  Along with his role as a researcher on the team, he also authored an article in The Conversation describing the team’s FRB research and how their findings will be used to answer complex questions about our universe.

The team was honored with the 2022 Lancelot M. Berkeley − New York Community Trust Prize for Meritorious Work in Astronomy. Bestowed annually since 2011 by the American Astronomical Society (AAS) and supported by a grant from the New York Community Trust, the Berkeley prize includes a monetary award and an invitation to give the closing plenary lecture at the AAS winter meeting, often called the “Super Bowl of Astronomy.” The 239th AAS meeting was canceled due to public health/safety concerns, but will resume at the 240th AAS meeting in Pasadena, CA. 



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