Marshall, King Alum Wins Nobel Prize

Dr. Barry C. Barish. Photo:

Dr. Barry C. Barish, part of a team of three scientists who won the Nobel Prize in Physics October 3rd, attended three local schools—Micheltorena Elementary, Thomas Starr King Junior High and John Marshall High School in his youth, according to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD).

Barish a professor emeritus at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) in Pasadena, his Caltech colleague Kip S. Thorne and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Rainer Weiss, won the award for their work in detecting gravitational waves—ripples in space and time—a discovery that confirmed an integral part of Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.

Barish graduated John Marshall in 1954, after attending Thomas Starr King and Micheltorena in the 1940s.

“We were completely surprised—pleasantly surprised, enthusiastically surprised—and extremely proud that an alumnus of our school” won the award, said Thomas Starr King Principal Mark Naulls, who called Barish’s win a “feather in the cap” for all of Los Feliz.

In an LAUSD press release, Barish recalled his time in high school fondly, especially playing for Marshall High school’s tennis team, though he said it wasn’t until college that he became interested in physics.

“Tennis was my passion in high school, and we had a great team,” he said. “As a teenage boy, I wanted to be a great sports star more than a scientist, but I had a coach who believed in me and encouraged me to excel in school.”

Following his graduation from Marshall, Barish attended the University of California Berkeley, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in physics, followed by a doctorate in experimental high-energy physics. He began teaching at Caltech in 1963.

LAUSD District 5 Board Member Ref Rodriguez, who represents all three schools, called Barish “a true innovator whose impact and achievements have forever shaped the course of history and science” in an LAUSD press release.

Requests for comment from John Marshall High School and Micheltorena Elementary School were not returned on deadline.


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