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The Bergmann-Wheeler Thesis Prize

Professor Peter Bergmann

Prof. Peter Bergmann (left) & Prof. John Wheeler (right).

Classical and Quantum Gravity

In 2008, the Society instituted a Thesis Prize in memory of Professors Peter Bergmann (1915-2002) and John Wheeler (1911-2008).This prize is sponsored by {\it classical and Quantum Gravity}, published by the Institute of Physics, UK.

They were both pioneers of quantum gravity. With Paul Dirac, Professor Bergmann developed the theory of constrained systems and applied it to the gravitational field. With Albert Einstein, he developed unified field theory and introduced several ideas that have now fundamental to physics of extra dimensions. He was one of the founders of our Society and served as its third President. Professor Wheeler made seminal contributions to nuclear physics and was key to the development of several key ideas in the foundations of quantum mechanics and black hole physics. With Bryce DeWitt, he developed canonical quantum gravity and paved the way to quantum cosmology. The first Albert Einstein prize of the American Physical Society was awarded jointly to Professors Bergmann and Wheeler.

The first Bergmann-Wheeler prize was awarded at GR19 in Mexico City for the best Ph.D. thesis in the broad area encompassing all approaches to quantum gravity. The recipient received a cheque for US $ 1500 and a certificate. The prize for the current recipient (see below) was awarded at GR21 in New York. Nominations for the prize to be awarded at GR22 are now open (NEW!) and will close in 2018.

For the nominations to be evaluated in 2018: The nominator must be a member of the International Society on General Relativity and Gravitation. The nominee need not be a member of the Society but the official defense must have taken place between the 30 September 2015 and 30 September 2018. The nomination package will consist of:

i) A nomination letter summarizing the main results and their importance and elaborating student's role in case of joint work.

ii) A PDF file or four hard copies of the thesis (one for each committee member). Copies of published papers that constitute the thesis can be submitted in lieu of the thesis.

iii) A CV and the publication list of the nominee.

iv) An official University document showing that the thesis was successfully defended in the period between the nomination dates of the previous and the current prize.

v) One or two letters in support from experts if the nominator is a supervisor of the Ph.D. thesis.

Electronic nominations are preferred.

The 2019 Bergmann-Wheeler Thesis Prize selection committee will be determined in 2018. NEW: Nomination packages should be submitted electronically to Beverly K. Berger ( If electronic submission is not possible, please mail to INTL SOC GEN REL GRAV, P.O. Box 3388, Livermore, CA 94551, USA.

The complete rules for eligibility and selection of the recipient for this prize can be found here.

Bergmann-Wheeler Prize Recipients

2010, Victor Taveras, Thesis institution: Pennsylvania State University

2013, Aron C. Wall, Thesis institution: University of Maryland

2016, Lisa Glaser, Thesis institution: Niels Bohr Institute

In case of problems, contact: