APS Medal & Prize Ceremony

2021 APS Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research Recipient

The APS Medal recognizes contributions of the highest level that advance our knowledge and understanding of the physical universe in all its facets.

The APS Medal for Exceptional Achievement in Research is the largest Society prize to recognize the achievement of researchers from across all fields of physics. It is funded by a generous donation from Jay Jones, entrepreneur.

Dr. Gordon Baym

"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."

Gordon Baym, a graduate of Brooklyn Technical High School, studied mathematics and physics at Cornell University (AB, 1956), and at Harvard University (PhD, 1960) as a student of Julian Schwinger. He then spent two years at the Institut for Teoretisk Fysik in Copenhagen (now the Niels Bohr Institute), where he remains a frequent visitor. After a year at Berkeley, he came permanently to the University of Illinois in 1963.

His interests in theoretical physics range from quantum statistical mechanics to matter at low temperatures and under extreme conditions. A pioneer in the study of pulsars and neutron stars, he has been a driver in laboratory studies of density matter via ultrarelativistic heavy ion collisions. His ongoing interests include quark matter in neutron stars, and the intersection of low temperature and high energy physics in searches for the neutron electron dipole moment and for dark matter.

He is a Fellow of the APS and former Chair of the APS Forum on the History of Physics; a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and of the American Philosophical Society. He was earlier awarded the APS Hans Bethe Prize and the APS Lars Onsager Prize (with T.-L. Ho and C.J. Pethick), and the Eugene Feenberg Memorial Medal (with L. Keldysh). His continuing service to the physics community includes recently chairing the National Academy of Sciences study of the Electron-Ion Collider.


2021 Julius Edgar Lilienfeld Prize Recipient

The Lilienfeld Prize recognizes outstanding contributions to physics and exceptional skills in lecturing to diverse audiences.

The prize was established in 1988 under the terms of a bequest of Beatrice Lilienfeld in memory of her husband, Julius Edgar Lilienfeld.

Dr. William M. Jackson

"For outstanding contributions to fundamental chemical physics and spectroscopy associated with asteroids and comets, and for exemplary teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, as well as lifelong service and inspiration to a diverse community."

William M. Jackson received his BS degree from Morehouse College in 1956 and his Ph.D. degree in 1961 in Physical Chemistry with minors in Physics and Mathematics. He is a renowned astrochemist who has developed cutting edge laboratory techniques that use lasers to study the small molecules that occur in comets, planetary atmospheres and the interstellar medium. His quantitative measurements of the Einstein A coefficients of CN provide that has been used to determine using the laser induced fluorescence (LIF) method on its rotational lines of CN have been employed to determine the cosmic background radiation of 2.754 0K in this and other galaxies. This work also showed that led the LIF method could be employed in the laboratory to determine the properties and reactivities of unstable free radicals observed in astronomy such as CN, C2, and C3. Other laser techniques have recently been employed to map out the detailed vacuum ultraviolet (VUV) photochemistry for CO, N2 and CO2 that can be used in the modeling of these stable molecules in astronomy.

He is a member of American Chemical Society (ACS), American Physical Society (APS), American Astronomical Society (AAS), Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), a member and one of the founders of National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE). He is a Fellow of APS, ACS, AAAS, and NOBCChE societies and the Arthur B.C. Walker II Award, 2019 of the ASP.


2021 George E. Valley, Jr. Prize Recipient

The Valley Prize recognizes an early-career individual for an outstanding scientific contribution to physics that is deemed to have significant potential for a dramatic impact on the field.

The prize was established by the APS Council in 2000 under the terms of a bequest by George E. Valley, Jr.

Dr. Vedika Khemani

"For seminal theoretical work on novel phases of many-body localized and Floquet systems, including demonstrating the absolute stability of a time crystal in such systems."

Vedika Khemani is an assistant professor of physics at Stanford University. She received her bachelor’s degree in physics from Harvey Mudd College in 2010. Her senior thesis on gravitational holography was awarded the Thomas Benjamin Brown Memorial Award. Her interests turned to condensed matter theory while pursuing her doctoral studies at Princeton University, advised by Professor Shivaji Sondhi. Her graduate work introduced the notion of non-equilibrium phases of matter in many-body Floquet systems – including the discovery of a novel phase of matter now known as the Floquet time-crystal – and was awarded the Joseph Taylor Fellowship and the Kusaka Prize. After graduating from Princeton in 2016, she spent her postdoctoral years as a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows. Since starting at Stanford in 2019, she has been awarded a Terman Fellowship, an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, an Early Career Award from the Department of Energy, and the William L. McMillan Award for condensed matter physics.

Prof. Khemani’s research interests in quantum dynamics, many-body quantum entanglement, and emergent properties of out-of-equilibrium quantum matter represent a burgeoning research direction of interest to several subfields of physics including condensed matter, quantum information, quantum gravity, and quantum engineering.