BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Johns Hopkins University astrophysicist Dr. Charles Bennett was awarded one of the oldest scientific prizes in the nation for his role in leading a NASA mission to measure the origin and development of the universe.

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences awarded Bennett the Rumford Prize, which recognizes scientific contributions in the fields of heat and light. He will accept the award at a virtual event in February.

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Celebrated scientists like Thomas Edison and the inventors of instant photography and the world’s first nuclear reactor have also won the award, according to a Johns Hopkins press release.

“There has never been a guarantee that cosmologists or astrophysicists would come to understand the universe, but we have collectively made incredible discoveries in recent decades,” said Dr. Bennett. “I am thankful that I was able to contribute to this progress, grateful to my collaborators, and ever excited to see what mysteries of the universe we might unveil next.”

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Bennett is one of few experts who have transformed the understanding of our universe, said Johns Hopkins University President Ron Daniels.

“We are thrilled at the prospect of the discoveries he will continue to make and the pathways of inquiry he has opened for future generations of physicists,” Daniels said.

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Bennett, who has taught at John Hopkins since 2005, is currently looking at outstanding universal questions such as: “What is dark matter?” and “What is the dark energy?”

CBS Baltimore Staff