Abraham Pais Prize for History of Physics

To recognize outstanding scholarly achievements in the history of physics. The prize is given annually and will consist of $10,000 and a certificate citing the contributions of the recipient, plus an allowance for travel to an APS meeting to receive the award and deliver an invited lecture on the history of physics.

Establishment & Support

The American Physical Society (APS) through its Forum on the History of Physics (FHP) and the American Institute of Physics (AIP) through its Center for History of Physics (CHP) established the prize in 2005. Major sponsors include Richard Lounsbery Foundation, John & Elizabeth Armstrong and Virginia Trimble.

The Award fund will be administered by APS.

Rules & Eligibility

Outstanding scholarly achievements are reflected primarily in the publication of one or more scholarly books or a series of scholarly articles on any topic or chronological period in the history of physics. These can include significant editions of works of physicists that display outstanding editorial scholarship; other edited books or collections of previously published articles will be considered but given less weight. Further outstanding professional achievements such as teaching, lecturing, editing of journals, organization of conferences, and productions on the Web or in other electronic media may be considered if they have contributed significantly to fostering excellence in the history of physics. The Award usually is given to a single person but to no more than three individuals. It is granted without restriction. It is open to scholars of all nationalities; membership in a scholarly or professional society is not required. Nominations will remain active for three years. Selection Committee members and current FHP Executive Committee members are not eligible for the Award.

Nomination & Selection Process

Deadline: Monday, May 2, 2016

The nomination package must include:

  • A letter of not more than 5,000 characters evaluating the qualifications of the nominee(s).

In addition, the nomination should include:

  • A biographical sketch.
  • A list of the most important publications.
  • At least two, but not more than four, seconding letters.
  • Up to five reprints or preprints.

There may be additional requirements for particular prizes and awards. Please read the rules carefully.

To complete a nomination click here for the electronic submission form. All files should be uploaded in a PDF format. Letters can be signed electronically (for example, using an embedded facsimile) or physically. In the latter case, they should be digitally scanned. Filenames should include the name of the nominee.

For updating an existing nomination, please click the above link and log into the form using the email address and password you used to create your nominator account.

2017 Selection Committee Members: Richard Staley (Chair), Allan Franklin (Vice Chair), Paul Halpern, Lillian Hoddesson, Peter Zimmerman

Selection Procedure:

The FHP Chair will recommend to the APS President individuals who will serve on a five-member Selection Committee with staggered terms. AIP will be represented on the Selection Committee by one member whose name has been previously recommended by the AIP Executive Director. After approval by the APS President, the Selection Committee will recommend an Awardee to the FHP Executive Committee, which must approve the Awardee by a two-thirds vote; otherwise the recommendation will be returned to the Selection Committee. After approval by the FHP Executive Committee, the FHP Chair will propose the Awardee to the APS Executive Board for its approval. If the APS Executive Board does not approve the Awardee, it will communicate the reasons for this decision to the Selection Committee for further consideration.


Serving a diverse and inclusive community of physicists worldwide is a primary goal for APS. Nominations of qualified women, members of underrepresented minority groups, and scientists from outside the United States are especially encouraged.

2016 Recipient

Allan Franklin
University of Colorado, Boulder

Allan Franklin



Past Recipients

2015: Spencer R. Weart
2014: David C. Cassidy
2013: Roger H. Stuewer
2012: Lillian Hoddeson
2011: Silvan Schweber
2010: Russell McCormmach
2009: Stephen G. Brush
2008: Gerald Holton
2007: Max Jammer
2006: John L. Heilbron
2005: Martin Klein