Perlmutter graduated from Harvard University magna cum laude in 1981 and later received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley in 1986. In 2004, Perlmutter joined the Berkeley Physics Department where he currently works as an astrophysicist in the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and heads the international Supernova Cosmology Project.
On October 3, 2011, Dr. Perlmutter, together with Australian scientist Brian Schmidt from Australian National University and American scientist Adam Reiss from Johns Hopkins University, received the Nobel Prize in Physics for their study of exploding stars that discovered that the expansion of the universe is accelerating. The three men will share the $1.5 million award.
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences which hands out the award said their discoveries "have helped to unveil a universe that to a large extent is unknown to science."
"The original project began because we know the universe is expanding," Perlmutter said. "Everybody had assumed that gravity would slow down the expansion of the universe and everything would come to a halt and collapse. The big surprise was it was actually speeding up."
Dr. Perlmutter has also received numerous other awards: Albert Einstein Medal (2011); Shaw Prize in Astronomy (2006); Feltrinelli International Prize in the Physical and Mathematical Sciences (2006); John Scott Award (2005); Padua Prize (2005); California Scientist of the Year Award (2003); Department of Energy's E. O. Lawrence Award in Physics (2002); American Astronomical Society’s Henri Chretien Award (1996).