UNC physicists contributed to Breakthrough Prize-winning projects

John Wilkerson
John Wilkerson (photo by Benjamin Brayfield)

Five physicists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill are part of Breakthrough Prize-winning collaborations recognized for the “fundamental discovery and exploration of neutrino oscillations, revealing a new frontier beyond, and possibly far beyond, the standard model of particle physics.”

Prizes from the Breakthrough Foundation honor important work in physics, genetics, cosmology, neurology and mathematics. The $3 million prize in physics will be shared with five scientific collaborations with more than 1,300 individual researchers among them. Researchers John Wilkerson, Reyco Henning, Mark Howe, Hugon Karwowski and Ryan Rohm in the department of physics and astronomy in UNC’s College of Arts and Sciences played key roles in two of those award-winning physics collaborations. Wilkerson, Henning and Howe were part of the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory (SNO) in Canada, and Karwowski and Rohm contributed to the KamLAND experiments in Japan.

Reyco Henning
Reyco Henning

Canadian scientist Arthur B. McDonald, who led the Breakthrough Prize-winning SNO research project involving UNC’s Wilkerson, Henning and Howe, was also a co-winner of the 2015 Nobel Prize for Physics.

Founded in 2013, the Breakthrough Prize Foundation is a nonprofit dedicated to advancing breakthrough research, celebrating scientists and generating excitement about the pursuit of science as a career.