Press release

American Physical Society Announces 2020 Recipients of Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize and George E. Valley Prize

August 27, 2019

The American Physical Society (APS) is pleased to announce the 2020 recipients of two of the Society’s most prestigious honors: the Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize and the George E. Valley Prize. Both prizes will be presented on Thursday, January 30, 2020, during the APS Annual Leadership Meeting in Washington, DC.

2020 Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize

The Lilienfeld Prize recognizes outstanding contributions to physics by a single individual who also has exceptional skills in lecturing to diverse audiences. The prize includes an award of $10,000, a certificate, and travel expenses to give three lectures at various institutions.

The 2020 awardee is Joel R. Primack, University of California, Santa Cruz, “For seminal contributions to our understanding of the formation of structure in the universe, and for communicating to the public the extraordinary progress in our understanding of cosmology.”

“Joel Primack is an inspired choice for this year's Lilienfeld Prize,” says APS President-Elect Philip H. Bucksbaum, chair of the 2020 prize selection committee, “Joel has contributed greatly to our current understanding of the fundamental makeup of the universe and has helped to establish the paradigm of cold dark matter cosmology. Equally important is his work as an effective voice for science in the public and in public policy, not only through lectures and books to general audiences, but also through active participation in policy initiatives, such as helping to found the APS and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Congressional Science Fellowships Program.”

Primack, Distinguished Professor of Physics Emeritus at the University of California, Santa Cruz, received his AB in physics from Princeton in 1966 and his PhD in physics at Stanford in 1970. Primack is one of the main inventors and developers of cold dark matter with a cosmological constant, which has become the standard theory of modern cosmology.

Primack is a Fellow of APS, AAAS, and the California Academy of Sciences. He received a Sloan Foundation Research Fellowship (1974), an APS Forum on Physics and Society (FPS) Award (1977) (joint with Frank von Hippel), a Humboldt Prize (1999), and an APS Leo Szilard Lectureship Award (2016). Primack was a Junior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows from 1970 to 1973.

Among his many publications, he has co-authored several books, including Advice and Dissent: Scientists in the Political Arena, The View from the Center of the Universe: Discovering Our Extraordinary Place in the Cosmos, and The New Universe and the Human Future in addition to popular articles and lectures for the general public.

2020 George E. Valley Prize

The Valley Prize recognizes an early-career individual for an outstanding scientific contribution to physics with potential for significant impact on the field. The prize consists of $10,000 and a certificate citing the contribution made by the recipient.

The 2020 recipient is Norman Y. Yao, University of California, Berkeley, “For the elucidation of non-equilibrium quantum phases of matter, in particular time crystalline order, and for enabling the realization of these phases in quantum optical systems.”

“I’m excited that the George E. Valley Prize will be going to Norman Yao,” says APS President-Elect Philip H. Bucksbaum, chair of the 2020 prize selection committee, “This prize has special importance for APS since it is awarded early in a scientist’s career, to recognize a research advance with dramatic impact in physics. Norm has already made contributions that have established new directions in condensed matter, in quantum information, and in quantum optics. His work on exotic phenomena such as ‘time crystals’ is rewriting our understanding of driven quantum systems and many-body localization.”

Yao is an Assistant Professor of Physics at the University of California, Berkeley. His group’s research interests lie at the interface between atomic, molecular, and optical physics, condensed matter, and quantum information science.

Yao received his bachelor’s degree, summa cum laude, in physics and mathematics from Harvard University in 2009. His bachelor’s thesis on nonlinear mechanics in biopolymer networks was awarded the Captain Jonathan Fay Prize. Yao completed his doctoral studies at Harvard University and his dissertation was awarded the 2015 Deborah Jin Award for Outstanding Doctoral Thesis Research in Atomic, Molecular, or Optical Physics. Following postdoctoral work as a Miller Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley, he became an Assistant Professor in the physics department. Recently, Yao was awarded an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship and a David and Lucile Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering for his research on non-equilibrium quantum systems.

For more information on the prizes and the recipients, please visit the Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize and George E. Valley Prize webpages.


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