May 9, 2016
Theoretical physicist is second Nobel winner to join Arizona State in less than a week
Frank Wilczek, a theoretical physicist and mathematician who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2004, is joining Arizona State University as a professor in the physics department.
Wilczek will work on a variety of important issues in theoretical physics. He will also be organizing workshops to gather the best and brightest physicists worldwide at ASU to help propel the advancement of the discipline. He is the second Nobel Prize-winning professor to join ASU in the last week.
“At a minimum I will be giving lectures to advance students on frontier topics, basically what I’m working on,” he said. “It’s also quite possible I will try to involve students at earlier stages in some of the more practical work, where they don’t need as much theoretical background.”
Wilczek said he’s looking for a new adventure, and his move to Arizona State will be another step in the evolution of an existing relationship.
“(My wife) Betsy and I have visited ASU regularly for the past several years,” he said. “We’ve had many great experiences in the Tempe and Phoenix community already. We’ve been impressed with the visionary ambition and dynamism of the university in general, and with its encouragement of new scientific and cross-disciplinary initiatives in particular. I’m looking forward to exciting adventures in advancing the frontiers of science, sharing it and putting it to use in coming years.”
Wilczek received his bachelor of science in mathematics at the University of Chicago in 1970, a master of arts in mathematics at Princeton University in 1972, and a PhD in physics at Princeton University in 1974. Currently he is the Herman Feshbach professor of physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Wilczek, along with David Gross and H. David Politzer, was awarded the Nobel for their discovery of asymptotic freedom in the theory of the strong interaction.
Theoretical physicist and cosmologist Lawrence KraussKrauss is a Foundation Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and director of its Origins Project. called Wilczek the pre-eminent theoretical physicist of his generation.
“Yes, he won the Nobel Prize for work he did as a graduate student when he was 21, but that just tells a small part of the story,” Krauss said. “He is a true polymath, working in and mastering almost every area of physics, but his interests range far more broadly. ...
"What has interested Frank in ASU in particular is the breadth of work being done here, the highly interactive transdisciplinary atmosphere — which Origins in particular benefits from — and the openness of the university, from the president on down, to new ideas."
Ferran Garcia-Pichel, dean of natural sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said he looked forward to Wilczek’s contributions to the university.
“He is sure to contribute seminally to the development of theoretical physics at ASU and to the teaching and mentoring of our students, as he has already done during previous stays as a visiting professor,” Garcia-Pichel said. “He will definitely help us attract the field's center of gravity closer to home.”
Garcia-Pichel announced Wednesday that Sidney Altman, who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1989, will join the School of Life Sciences at ASU.
On a trip to Arizona this past January, Wilczek toured an art installation called "Field of Lights" at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.