John Wheatley Award

Edmond L Berger

The American Physical Society’s John Wheatley Award was created in 1991 with support from the FIP. It was established to recognize the dedication of physicists who have made contributions to the development of physics in countries of the third world. This award is bestowed every two years, every odd-numbered year, at a general meeting of the APS.

Nominations for 2017 Wheatley award were due by July 1, 2016. FIP established a committee to examine these nominations, consisting of Per Nordblad (2015 Wheatley winner), FIP Vice Chair Jerry Peterson, former FIP Members-at-Large Christine Darve and Alex de Lozanne, with FIP Past Chair Edmond Berger serving as Chair of the selection committee. Berger has submitted the selection committee's recommendation, but it must be approved by the APS Council of Representatives before it is official and can be made public.

Eight nominations of distinguished scientists were received before the July 1 deadline. Nominations remain active for 3 review cycles so those not selected for the award in one year are automatically reconsidered again. Nevertheless, it is highly recommended that nominations be updated, especially in cases, as happened this year, in which candidates change institutions and accept new responsibilities.

It is not too soon to begin thinking of new nominations of distinguished scientists whose career includes compelling evidence of collaboration on physics research and/or of teaching physics in countries of the third world. Nominators should consider carefully the guiding criteria for a Wheatley award:

  • an outstanding contribution to the development of physics in a country or countries of the third world through work with local physicists in physics research or teaching;
  • the award will not be given to a person for work in his or her own country.

And, by all means, be proactive in nominating deserving women physicists and members of underrepresented groups. Please see the APS Prize & Award Nomination Guidelines.

Edmond L Berger is the Past-Chair of the FIP

John C. Wheatley (1927 – 1986)

From Wikipedia and a National Academy of Sciences biographical memoire

Wheatley was one of the preeminent physicists of his generation, best known for fundamental and original measurements that led to great advances in the understanding of quantum fluids and solids. His fame stems from his research on liquid helium-3.

During his illustrious career he received many awards and was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1975. He was also a member of the Finnish Academy of Sciences.

In the 1960s he worked at the then newly created Instituto de Física (now the Balseiro Institute) of the Centro Atómico Bariloche in San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina, which in a national park in Patagonia. He led the building of the Bariloche lab, but he taught people what it took to be competitive worldwide at a time when there was little experimental physics in South America.

By the time he left, liquid air, hydrogen, and helium had been produced, adiabatic demagnetization refrigeration had been accomplished, and research projects were under way, including a measurement of the heat capacity of pure He down to millikelvin temperatures. Under the subsequent leadership of students that John helped train, the laboratory became one of the premier experimental research centers in South America. John’s efforts on behalf of the Bariloche laboratory were recognized by the APSs establishment of the biennial John Wheatley Award “to honor and recognize the dedication of physicists who have made contributions to the development of physics in countries of the third world.”

John Wheatley photo