An MIT Alumni Association Publication

Two members of the MIT community won 2017 Nobel Prizes in different categories.

Michael Rosbash PhD ’71 received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine and Rainer Weiss ’55, PhD '62, MIT emeritus professor of physics, won the Nobel Prize in Physics.

Rosbash, a professor of biology at Brandeis University, was honored along with two colleagues—Jeffrey C. Hall of the University of Maine and Michael W. Young of Rockefeller University—for “their discoveries of molecular mechanisms controlling the circadian rhythm.” Their work spans nearly 30 years and includes discovering specific genes that help to regulate these daily rhythms.

Rosbash is the 35th MIT graduate to win a Nobel Prize and the 4th in physiology or medicine.

Weiss, who has been on the faculty at MIT since 1962, shared the award with two colleagues—Kip S. Thorne, professor emeritus of theoretical physics at Caltech, and Barry C. Barish, professor emeritus of physics at Caltech—“for decisive contributions to the LIGO detector and the observation of gravitational waves.”

Weiss and his team confirmed the first detection of a gravitational wave on September 14, 2015, using the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO), proving Einstein's prediction of the existence of gravitational waves. After the initial detection, the scientists determined that the gravitational wave was the product of a violent collision between two massive black holes 1.3 billion years ago and they have since detected three other gravitational wave signals. Watch a video of Weiss explaining his work.

Weiss is the 36th MIT graduate to win a Nobel Prize and the 13th in physics, including Adam Reiss ’92 in 2011.

Rosbash and Weiss bring the total MIT-connected Nobel winners to 89. Visit MIT's Institutional Research Page for more details.

Pictured top (left to right): Rainer Weiss, SB ’55, PhD '62 and Michael Rosbash PhD ’71. Photo credits (left to right): M. Scott Brauer, Mike Lovett, Brandeis University.


Martin Schrage

Mon, 10/23/2017 6:30pm

Thrilling. But this is not the first time I have been thrilled by the announcement of a Nobel Prize Winner.

In my sophomore year (1960 - 1961) at MIT - my small recitation section (ten or so students) instructor for 8.031 and 8.041 was Professor Clifford Shull, (Nobel Prize in Physics 1994). (He was an Alumnus of Carnegie Mellon and his PhD was from NYU - hence his name is absent from the list of Alumni winners.) Professor Shull was very unusual in receiving the Nobel many decades after his work.

He was an excellent instructor often putting a lot of work into drawing elaborate illustrations of optical systems on the chalk board - but he was a very tough grader. As I discovered when I received a minimal 10 points of credit for a 40-point EM theory problem.

So I can legitimately say that I studied with a Nobel Prize Winner. Which is lots of fun for this electrical engineer.

Sara Baker

Sun, 10/22/2017 12:20pm

Thrilling contributions.... favorite place.


Thu, 10/05/2017 12:20pm

As an alumnus of MIT I feel proud of my adorable Almamater.