Peter Mészáros, Eberly Chair Professor, emeritus, of Astronomy and Astrophysics has been elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Election to membership in the academy is one of the highest honors accorded to U.S. scientists by their peers.
Mészáros is one of three members of Penn State’s faculty being recognized by the academy this year for their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research, two of which are from the Eberly College of Science. Jainendra K. Jain, Evan Pugh University Professor and Erwin W. Mueller Professor of Physics, was also elected. This year, the academy elected 120 members and 30 international members to its membership. The total membership in the academy is now 2,461 active members and 511 international members.
“Election to the National Academy of Sciences is among the greatest honors that a scientist can receive, and we are proud to see three outstanding individuals from Penn State earn this recognition,” said Lora Weiss, senior vice president for research. “Their dedication to discovery in a world with increasingly complex challenges is admirable. Congratulations to our well-deserving scholars.”
Mészáros is a theoretical astrophysicist who studies gamma-ray bursts, neutrino astrophysics, cosmology, cosmic rays, gravitational waves and neutron stars. He is director of the Center for Multimessenger Astrophysics and affiliated with the Institute for Gravitation and the Cosmos, all at Penn State. He is part of the Astrophysical Multimessenger Observatory Network (AMON), and the Neil Gehrels Swift Gamma Ray Burst satellite. He also was affiliated with the Fermi Large Area Telescope and IceCube, the South Pole Neutrino Observatory.
Mészáros is known for his work on the relativistic fireball shock model of gamma ray bursts and their afterglows. Gamma ray bursts are enormous explosions that occur in distant galaxies and are thought to be the result of supernova implosions forming neutron stars and black holes. He also is responsible for the Mészáros effect, an equation in physical cosmology that quantifies how cold dark matter influences the initial formation of galaxies and galaxy clusters.
He received a master's degree in physics from the National University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, in 1967 and a doctorate in astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley in 1972. He was named a Legacy Fellow of the American Astronomical Society in 2020, elected a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010 and an external member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 2010, and named a fellow of the American Physical Society in 1997. He has written more than 400 peer-reviewed papers, three books and numerous review articles.
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit organization of scientists dedicated to the furtherance of science and its use for the general welfare. It was established in 1863 by a congressional act of incorporation, signed by Abraham Lincoln, which calls on the academy to act as an official adviser to the federal government, upon request, in any matter of science or technology.