Bernard Schutz is a theoretical physicist recognized for his work in gravitational wave science. He is particularly known for having shown that compact relativistic binary systems are standard sirens – that the gravitational wave signal encodes the distance to the source – and that they can be used to measure the expansion rate of the universe. Schutz was born in Paterson, New Jersey and grew up in Bethpage, New York. After graduating in physics from Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y., in 1967, he received his Ph.D. in physics from the California Institute of Technology in 1972, supervised by Kip Thorne. After postdoctoral positions at Cambridge University and Yale, he took a lectureship at Cardiff University in Wales in 1974, rising to Professor in 1986. In 1995 he was invited to Potsdam, Germany, as a founding Director of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute). Retiring in 2014, he returned to Cardiff’s School of Physics and Astronomy and established the Data Innovation Research Institute. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the German Academy Leopoldina, the Learned Society of Wales, and the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences (Uppsala). He has received the RAS Eddington Medal and the APS Isaacson Award.

Research Interests

Bernard Schutz's research interests include theoretical and computational general relativity, relativistic astrophysics, and data science. In the 1970's he helped lay the foundations of the theory of pulsations of relativistic stars, work that included identifying the Chandrasekhar-Friedman-Schutz class of gravitational-wave (GW) driven instabilities. He then began working with experimentalists to develop GW detection, showing in 1986 how interferometers can measure cosmic distances to binaries of neutron stars and black holes from their signals, and how that enables a measurement of the cosmological expansion rate. These are now central parts of LIGO-Virgo (LV) observations. Schutz's Cardiff University group went on to pioneer the methods that are used to analyse the LV data. At the Albert Einstein Institute (AEI) in Germany, his division developed fundamental techniques enabling numerical simulations of black-hole mergers, and it created many data-analysis tools used in LV searches for GW pulsars. He oversaw the expansion of the AEI into experimental gravitation, including the mid-size GW interferometer GEO600 that develops technologies for LIGO and Virgo, plus a laboratory that has become a principal center for the design and development of the LISA space mission to detect low-frequency GWs. As the LISA proposal's science and data lead, Schutz contributed significantly to LISA's adoption by the European Space Agency in 2016. Schutz founded the online journal 'Living Reviews in Relativity' in 1998 (now published by Springer); under his editorship it became the highest-impact open-access journal worldwide.

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Primary Section

Section 13: Physics

Secondary Section

Section 12: Astronomy