Prize Recipient

Recipient Picture

Peter W. Higgs
University of Edinburgh


"For elucidation of the properties of spontaneous symmetry breaking in four-dimensional relativistic gauge theory and of the mechanism for the consistent generation of vector boson masses"


Peter Higgs was born on 29 May 1929 in Newcastle upon Tyne, UK. He graduated with 1st class Honours in Physics from King's College, University of London, in 1950. A year later, he was awarded an MSc and started research, initially under the supervision of Charles Coulson and, subsequently, Christopher Longuet-Higgins. In 1954, he was awarded a PhD for a thesis entitled "Some Problems in the Theory of Molecular Vibrations", work which signalled the start of his life-long interest in the application of the ideas of symmetry to physical systems.

In 1954, Peter Higgs moved to the University of Edinburgh for his second year as a Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 Senior Student, and remained for a further year as a Senior Research Fellow. He returned to London in 1956 to take up an ICI Research Fellowship, spending a year at University College and a little over a year at Imperial College, before taking up an appointment as Temporary Lecturer in Mathematics at University College. October 1960 saw Peter Higgs return to Edinburgh as Lecturer in Mathematical Physics. He was promoted to Reader in 1970, became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1974 and was promoted to a Personal Chair of Theoretical Physics in 1980. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1983 and Fellow of the Institute of Physics in 1991. He retired in 1996, becoming Professor Emeritus at the University of Edinburgh.

Peter Higgs contribution to physics has been recognised by numerous academic honours: the Hughes Medal of the Royal Society (1981, shared with Tom Kibble), the Rutherford Medal of the Institute of Physics (1984, also shared with Tom Kibble), the Saltire Society & Royal Bank of Scotland Scottish Science Award (1990), the Royal Society of Edinburgh James Scott Prize Lectureship (1993), the Paul Dirac Medal and Prize of the Institute of Physics (1997), the High Energy and Particle Physics Prize of the European Physical Society (1997, shared with Robert Brout and Francois Englert), and the Wolf Foundation Prize in Physics (2004, also shared with Brout and Englert). He has received honorary degrees from the Universities of Bristol (1997), Edinburgh (1998) and Glasgow (2002).

Selection Committee:

R. Sekhar Chivukula, Chair, S. Dawson, A. Smirnov, U. Baur, S.J. Brodsky