The Johns Hopkins University
2015 Sidney Fernbach Award Recipient
“For his outstanding contributions to the development of data-intensive computing systems and on the application of such systems in many scientific areas including astrophysics, turbulence, and genomics.”
Alexander Szalay is Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at the Johns Hopkins University, in the Departments of Physics and Astronomy and Computer Science. He was born and educated in Hungary, and he spent postdoctoral periods at UC Berkeley and the University of Chicago before accepting a faculty position at Johns Hopkins. A cosmologist, he works on the statistical measures of the spatial distribution of galaxies and galaxy formation. He wrote the first papers associating dark matter with relic particles from the Big Bang. Recently he has been working on problems related to large data sets in various areas of physics and astrophysics. He is the architect for the Science Archive of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey and was project director of the NSF-funded National Virtual Observatory, building an open system out of the various distributed astronomy collections across the US. Recently he has been focusing on the challenges of building public numerical laboratories from large supercomputer simulations. He has built various data-intensive parallel computers, one of them winning the Storage Challenge at SC-08. His papers cover areas from theoretical cosmology, observational astronomy, spatial statistics, and computer science. Szalay was elected to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences as a corresponding member in 1990. In 2003 he became a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He received an Alexander von Humboldt Prize in Physical Sciences in 2004 and the Microsoft Jim Gray Award in 2007. In 2008 he became Doctor Honoris Causa of the Eötvös University. He likes to play with Big Data.