On 22 May the 2019 in Louvain-la-Neuve the Georges Lemaître International Prize was awarded to George F. R. Ellis, emeritus professor at the University of Cape Town, South Africa.
Created in 1995 on the initiative of the Alumni and Friends of UCLouvain, the Georges Lemaître International Prize is awarded every two years to a scientist who has made a major contribution to the development and dissemination of knowledge in the fields of astronomy, astrophysics, geophysics, or space research.
Internationally recognised as a leader in cosmology and complex dynamic systems, Prof. Ellis is an outstanding scientist with interests in many fields: philosophy, the relationship between science and faith, and issues of social engagement. A collaborator with Stephen Hawking, he clarified the notion of singularity in space-time physics, in relation to the geometric properties of cosmological solutions in general relativity. He is a pioneer in the study of the Einstein-Boltzmann equations and contributed significantly to the development of Friedmann-Lemaître cosmology.
Prof. Ellis has been honoured by numerous awards and distinctions in the field of cosmology and his contributions to the philosophy of science have also been hailed: he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Sorbonne (Paris) in 2016 as well as the 1999 Star of South Africa by Nelson Mandela in recognition of his role in post-apartheid South African society.
The award ceremony’s 13th edition, organised under the auspices of the Louvain Foundation, was preceded by a tour of the life of Georges Lemaître at the L Museum and a presentation of the Georges Lemaître Archives, which are being digitised. Jean-Philippe Uzan, the 2015 Georges Lemaître Prize winner, participated in the ceremony via video link from the Observatoire de Paris. The Georges Lemaître Prize was awarded to Prof. Ellis by UCLouvain Rector Vincent Blondel before an audience of 200.