Press release

Gordon Baym to Receive 2021 APS Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research

August 20, 2020

Theoretical physicist Gordon Baym, Professor Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, will receive the 2021 American Physical Society (APS) Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research. Baym will be recognized for his seminal contributions to several fields of physics in early 2021.

The 2021 Medal citation honoring Baym reads: “For major discoveries in theoretical condensed matter and many-body physics, neutron star structure and composition, quark matter and quark-gluon plasma physics, and in atomic physics and ultracold quantum gases.”

"In my role, I was pleased to see the nomination of many 'supernovas' for consideration," said APS President-Elect Sylvester James Gates, Jr., who chaired the selection committee. "As the bestowal of the APS Medal shows, Gordon Baym is a physicist who shines most brilliantly."

The Medal is the highest honor APS bestows upon researchers across all of physics, recognizing contributions of the highest level that advance our knowledge and understanding of the physical universe in all its facets.

Baym joined the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois as an assistant professor in 1963. Over a career spanning more than 60 years, his study of matter under extreme conditions has transformed our understanding of condensed matter physics, astrophysics, nuclear physics, and atomic, molecular, and optical physics. Baym has also authored several textbooks, including Quantum Statistical Mechanics and Lectures on Quantum Mechanics, used widely in the education of theoretical physicists.

Baym has been recognized by the astrophysics community for his pioneering studies of pulsars and neutron stars and was a co-recipient of the APS Lars Onsager Prize in 2008 "for fundamental applications of statistical physics to quantum fluids.”

An APS Fellow and member of the National Academy of Sciences, his previous service to the physics community includes chairing the APS Forum on the History of Physics and an assessment of the Electron-Ion Collider, a major new nuclear physics facility to be built at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

The Medal includes a $50,000 prize, a certificate citing the contribution made by the recipient, and an invited talk at an APS March or April Meeting. The prize is funded by a generous endowment from entrepreneur Jay Jones.

More information about the APS Medal


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