Andrea Ghez, California Masters Swimmer, Wins Nobel Prize in Physics

Photo Courtesy: Brent Rutemiller

Andrea Ghez, one of three recipients of the 2020 Nobel Prize in Physics, is a distinguished Masters swimmer in California.

Ghez was announced this week as the winner of the Nobel Prize for her work on black holes, specifically the discovery of one at the center of the Milky Way galaxy, Sagittarius A*. She shares the award with Reinhard Genzel and Roger Penrose. She’s just the fourth woman to win a Nobel Prize in physics, joining Marie Curie (1903), Maria Goeppert Mayer (1963) and Donna Strickland (2018).

“I heard the news with a phone call at 2 in the morning, so I was fast asleep,” Ghez said in an interview conducted with The Nobel Prize’s Adam Smith. “And I think for the first few minutes I thought I was dreaming. I still can’t quite believe it.”

In addition to her research, Ghez is a Masters swimmer with UCLA Bruin Masters. A native of New York City, she studied at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and got her Ph.D. at California Institute of Technology. She’s a member of the faculty at UCLA.

Her fellow honoree Genzel, formerly of the University of California Berkeley, was a national-team level javelin thrower in West Germany in the 1970s.

Swimming is part of Ghez’s approach to studies.

“I do it to keep my head screwed on straight and to meet people who don’t think about science all day long,” Ghez said in an interview with The Poster Project. “It keeps things in my life balanced.”

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