Prize Recipient

KleppnerDaniel Kleppner
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


"For seminal research setting the direction for modern atomic, molecular, and optical physics, including precision measurements with hydrogen masers, the physics of Rydberg atoms and their quantum chaotic behavior in high fields, cavity quantum electrodynamics, and the production of quantum degenerate atomic gases."


Daniel Kleppner, Ph.D., is the Lester Wolfe Professor of Physics, Emeritus, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass. Born in New York City on December 16, 1932, Dr. Kleppner grew up in New Rochelle, New York where he graduated from high school in 1950. In 1953, Dr. Kleppner received his B.A. from Williams College in Amherst, Mass., and a B.A. from the U.K.’s Cambridge University in 1955. Under the supervision of Norman F. Ramsey, Ph.D., Dr. Kleppner conducted graduate research in physics at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass., where he received his 1959. Dr. Kleppner would later join Dr. Ramsey in the creation of the hydrogen maser, a novel type of atomic clock that was cited in Dr. Ramsey’s 1989 Nobel Prize for Physics.

In 1966, Dr. Kleppner joined the physics department at M.I.T. where he founded a high-level mechanics course for gifted college freshmen that became a permanent part of the curriculum. A second edition of An Introduction to Mechanics, the textbook Dr. Kleppner and his colleague, Robert J. Kolenkow, Ph.D., co-wrote in 1973 specifically for that course was recently published. Dr. Kleppner cofounded the M.I.T.-Harvard Center for Ultracold Atoms in 2002.
Dr. Kleppner’s research interests include precision measurements, fundamental constants, and experimental studies with Rydberg atoms, including cavity quantum electrodynamics and quantum chaos. With his M.I.T. colleague, Thomas J. Greytak, Ph.D., Dr. Kleppner helped to pioneer the field of Bose-Einstein condensation and quantum gasses. Together in 1998, they demonstrated Bose-Einstein condensation in atomic hydrogen.

Dr. Kleppner is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Science, the Academy of Sciences (Paris), and the American Philosophical Society. His awards include the National Medal of Science; the Lilienfeld Prize, the Davisson-Germer Prize, and the Szilard Award, all from the American Physical Society; the Oersted Medal from the American Institute of Physics; the Frederic Ives Medal of the Optical Society of America; and the Benjamin Franklin Award from the Franklin Institute.
Dr. Kleppner lives in Belmont, Mass., with his wife Beatrice. They have three children: Paul, Sofie, and Andrew. They also have four grandchildren: Matthew, Hannah, Ethan, and Darwin.

Selection Committee:

2017 Selection Committee Members: Laura H. Greene (Chair), Nicholas P Bigelow, James Robert Chelikowsky, Mark D. Ediger, Cary B. Forest, Miriam A. Forman, Giulia Galli, Timothy James Gay, Wick C. Haxton, Ann Renee Karagozian, John Bradley Marston, Amy Mullin, Jose N. Onuchic, Thomas Roser, Philip Michael Tuts, Johanna Barbara Stachel (Chair-appointed Committee Member)