Prize Lectures

The Yale Physics Department sponsors Prize Lectures in Physics with the aim of bringing distinguished scientists to Yale that they may present results of forefront, groundbreaking research where they have played significant roles, and to interact with our faculty, research staff, and students.  These are each an annual or bi-annual lecture series of general interest to the Department of Physics, Applied Physics, Astronomy, and Mathematics.  The series is aimed at graduate students, postdoctoral researchers, research staff and faculty.

Leigh Page Prize Lectures

The Leigh Page Prize Lecture series are given each year by a distinguished physicist in honor of Leigh Page who received his PhD in Physics from Yale in 1913. He was later acting Chair and Director of the Sloane Physics Laboratory. Professor Page devoted his time to teaching (mostly graduate classes), research, and writing several textbooks. Since 1967, several speakers in the Leigh Page Prize Lecture series have later received Nobel Prizes and other notable awards. In connection with the lecture series, a prize is offered to first year graduate students in recognition of their fine academic record and for the promise of important contributions to the field of physics. This year’s winners.

Web page

2021: Juan Maldacena

2019: Raymond E. Goldstein

2018: Nergis Mavalvala

Hanan Rosenthal Memorial Lecture

The Hanan Rosenthal Memorial Lecture was established in honor of physicist Hanan Rosenthal, a brilliant graduate student at Columbia University and instructor at Yale. This annual lecture in atomic physics started in 1973, Rosenthal’s field, is given by a distinguished leader in the field. Originally, the lecture series alternated between Columbia and Yale, which were both significant in Hanan Rosenthal’s career; in recent years, the lecture has been held only at Yale University.

Web page

2022: Francesca Ferlaino

2019: Immanuel Bloch

2018: Alain Aspect

Miller-Breit Memorial Lecture 

The Miller-Breit Memorial Lecture was established in honor of John Milton Miller (B.A. 1904, M.A. 1907, Ph.D. 1915) and Gregory Breit (Yale faculty 1947-1968) in order to bring a distinguished lecturer in physics to Yale each year. The Miller lectures ran 1966-1992 and the Breit lectures started in 1982 and included the Gregory Breit Centennial Symposium in 1999. The two funds were combined in 1986.

Web page

2021: Roger Penrose

2012: Eugenio Coccia

2007: Robert H. Socolow

Vernon W. Hughes Lecture

The Vernon W. Hughes Lecture was established in honor of Vernon W. Hughes, Sterling Professor Emeritus at Yale University and Elementary Particle Physicist to be used to fund the the lectorship with a portion used to support the facilites within which the lecturship and other activities of the department take place. Hughes was on the Yale faculty from 1954 until his retirement in 1991. He was Sterling Professor, the highest honor that Yale can bestow.

Web page

2018: Elena Aprile

2016: Giorgio Gratta

2014: Immanuel Bloch

Howard L. Schultz, Sr. Prize Lecture

The Howard L. Schultz, Sr. Prize Lecture is given each year by a distinguished physicist in honor of Howard L. Schultz, Sr. who received his PhD in Physics from Yale in 1937, where he was an instructor from 1938 until 1940. Professor Schultz joined the Yale physics faculty in 1945, and immediately began work in building atom‐smashing devices. Between 1961 and 1976 he was director of the Electron Linear Accelerator laboratory. Earlier, in 1951, he headed a project that expanded the Yale linear accelerator to a 15‐section, 6.5 million‐electron‐volt machine. Upon his death in 1977, a prize was started and awarded to seniors majoring in physics in recognition of their fine academic record and for the promise of important contributions to the field of physics. This lecture is usually held in the Spring term and speakers are suggested and invited by the Yale Society of Physics Students (SPS).

Web page

2021: Monika Schleier-Smith

2019: F. Duncan Haldane

2018: Nema Arkani-Hamed

Beatrice Tinsley Prize Lecture

The Beatrice Tinsley Prize Lecture was given by a distinguished physicist in honor of Beatrice Muriel Hill Tinsley, the first female professor of astronomy at Yale, where she worked from 1974 until her death in 1981. Her work on disk galaxies has proven foundational in the decades following her passing. In 2018, the Yale Society of Physics Students inaugurated the Beatrice Tinsley Prize Lecture, which saw the invitation of Asimina Arvanitaki. The prize lecture was started to honor Tinsley’s myriad contributions and to encourage collaboration and contact between distinguished physicists and the Yale undergraduate physics community. The speaker was jointly invited and hosted by the Society of Physics Students, Women in Physics, and undergraduate students from Astronomy.

Starting in 2022, the life and accomplishments of Beatrice Tinsley will be recognized through a dedicated series of activities.

Web page

2021: John C. Mather

2020: Donna Strickland

2019: Wolfgang Ketterle

Jack Sandweiss Memorial Lecture

The Physics Department held a memorial lecture in memory of Jack Sandweiss, Donner Professor Emeritus of Physics, who died at 90. 

Jack was an internationally recognized leader in experimental elementary particle physics and nuclear physics who started on faculty at Yale in 1957. Jack was the editor of Physical Review Letters for 25 years and a distinguished member of the Yale community. He served as Chair of the Physics Department and also led Davenport College.

Jack passed on November 20, 2020, making it impossible for the department to gather and honor him at that time. So instead, on Friday, May 13, 2022, the Physics Department gathered and heard a lecture by Berndt Mueller, Distinguished Professor of Physics from Duke University, titled RHIC: A Physics Facility for the New Millennium. The Sandweiss Family, physics department alumni who worked with Jack, and department faculty were all invited to attend in memory of Jack.

Web Page

April 13, 2022: Berndt Mueller, Duke University, RHIC: A Physics Facility for the New Millennium