Rachel Bean, associate professor of astronomy, is a co-recipient of the 2012 Gruber Cosmology Prize for her work on the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) team.
The Gruber prize honors a "leading cosmologist, astronomer, astrophysicist or scientific philosopher for theoretical, analytical, conceptual or observational discoveries leading to fundamental advances in our understanding of the universe."
The prize was shared among the WMAP team, on which Bean played a central role in determining the implications of WMAP observations for cosmology. This culminated in a 2007 publication that is one of the most highly cited in all of astronomy, with more than 5,200 citations thus far.
The team used observations of the cosmic microwave background radiation to determine some of the universe's vital statistics, according to the award citation -- its age, content, geometry and origin -- which have helped transform cosmology into a precision science.
Since 2001 the Gruber prize has been co-sponsored by the International Astronomical Union and includes a gold medal and unrestricted $500,000 cash prize presented annually.