Abraham Pais Prize for History of Physics

This prize recognizes 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 and Philosophy of Physics (FHPP) 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 be considered for three review cycles provided the nominator re-certifies the nomination before the next deadline. Selection Committee members and current FHPP Executive Committee members are not eligible for the Award.

Nomination & Selection Process

Deadline: Thursday, June 1, 2023

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.

To start a new or update a continuing nomination, please see the Prize & Award Nomination Guidelines.

2024 Selection Committee Members: Jami Miller (Chair), Jurgen Renn, Jinyan Liu, Catherine Westfall, and Melanie Mueller

Selection Procedure:

The FHPP 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 FHPP 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 FHPP Executive Committee, the FHPP 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.

The membership of APS is diverse and global, and the nominees and recipients of APS Honors should reflect that diversity so that all are recognized for their impact on our community. Nominations of members belonging to groups traditionally underrepresented in physics, such as women, LGBT+ scientists, scientists who are Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC), disabled scientists, scientists from institutions with limited resources, and scientists from outside the United States, are especially encouraged.

Nominees for and holders of APS Honors (prizes, awards, and fellowship) and official leadership positions are expected to meet standards of professional conduct and integrity as described in the APS Ethics Guidelines. Violations of these standards may disqualify people from consideration or lead to revocation of honors or removal from office.

2023 Recipient

Jürgen Renn
Max Planck Institute for the History of Science

Past Recipients

2022: Patricia Fara
2021: Hasok Chang
2020: Dieter Hoffmann
2019: Helge Kragh
2018: Peter Galison
2017: Mary Jo Nye
2016: Allan Franklin
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

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