Prize Recipient

Recipient Picture

Nigel Goldenfeld
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign


"For profound contributions to the fields of dynamical pattern formation, superconductivity, and fluid turbulence, together with creative developments and exposition of the theory of the renormalization group."


Nigel received his BA and Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in 1979 and 1982 respectively, and for the years 1982-1985 was a postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for Theoretical Physics, University of California at Santa Barbara . Since 1985 he has been on the faculty at the University of Illinois, with sabbatical positions at Stanford University and the University of Cambridge. Nigel's research explores how patterns evolve in time; examples include the growth of snowflakes, the microstructures of materials, the flow of turbulent fluids, the dynamics of geological formations, and even the spatial structure of ecosystems. Nigel's interests in emergent and collective phenomena extend from condensed matter physics, where he has contributed to the modern understanding of high temperature superconductors, to biology, where his current work focuses on the long-time structure of evolution, microbial ecology, collective phenomena in social insects, and astrobiology. Strongly committed to teaching, Nigel is well-known in the physics community for authoring one of the standard graduate textbooks in statistical mechanics. In 1996, Nigel took an entrepreneurial leave-of-absence to found NumeriX, an award-winning company that specializes in high-performance software for pricing and managing the risk of derivative securities. Amongst his awards, Nigel has been an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow, a University Scholar of the University of Illinois, a recipient of the Xerox Award for Research, and a recipient of the A. Nordsieck Award for Excellence in Graduate Teaching. He has served on a number of Editorial Boards, including The Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Physical Biology, and the International Journal of Theoretical and Applied Finance. Nigel is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a Member of the US National Academy of Sciences.


Selection Committee:

2020 Selection Committee members: David Egolf (Chair), M. Cristina Marchetti ('19 Recipient), Susan Coppersmith, Robert Ecke, Greg Huber, Daniel Lathrop 

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