Institute Professor Jerome I. Friedman, a 1990 Nobel laureate in physics and a member of the MIT faculty since 1960, has been named winner of the Killian Faculty Achievement Award for 2000-2001.
"This is a great surprise," Professor Friedman said after Professor Jean P. de Moncheaux, chair of the Selection Committee, made the announcement at the May 16 faculty meeting. "It's a great honor. I'm quite overcome by this experience."
"Jerry Friedman is one of the giants of physics, and, in his self-effacing manner, one of the gentle giants of MIT," Professor de Moncheaux said. "His extraordinary accomplishments make him a worthy recipient of the James R. Killian Jr. Faculty Achievement Award."
Established in 1971 as a tribute to MIT's 10th president and former chair of the Corporation, the award recognizes extraordinary professional accomplishments by an MIT faculty member. The winner delivers a lecture in the spring.
Dr. Friedman, who became an Institute Professor in 1991, shared the 1990 Nobel prize for physics with the late Professor Henry W. Kendall, also of MIT, and Dr. Richard E. Taylor of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center.
They were key members of a research team that conducted a series of experiments on the scattering of electrons by protons, deuterons and heavier nuclei in the late 1960s and early 1970s. These experiments gave the first clear evidence for charged point-like constituents inside the nucleon. The interpretation of the data gave strong support to the quark model and provided the experimental underpinnings for the development of quantum chromodynamics.
Professor Friedman has made far-reaching contributions to undergraduate education at MIT. His tenure as head of the Department of Physics from 1983-88 was marked by the development of strong faculty support for the physics core courses and recruitment of first-rate junior faculty. He led the effort to pay the full academic-year salary of junior faculty from department funds, an action hailed as a major improvement in the quality of life for junior faculty. In addition, he embarked on a program to put all academic salaries in the department on "hard money."
Professor Friedman, a longtime member of the Dr. Martin Luther King Special Celebration Committee, has made major contributions to the education of minority students. With his support as department head, the National Association of Black Physics Students was started at MIT. He is viewed as one of the key figures responsible for the fact that MIT educates 15 percent of the underrepresented US minorities studying physics.
Professor Friedman served on the committees that studied the status of women faculty in the School of Science from 1995-99. He also has made contributions to the arts at MIT as a member of the Creative Arts Council.
He earned the AB (1950), MS (1953) and PhD (1956) from the University of Chicago and was a research associate at Chicago (1956-57) and Stanford University (1957-60) before joining MIT. Professor Friedman was director of the Laboratory for Nuclear Science from 1980-83. He is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Physical Society and a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is past president of the American Physical Society and chair-elect of the Council of Scientific Society Presidents.
In addition to Professor de Moncheaux, members of the Killian Committee were Professors Sylvia T. Ceyer, Bengt Holmstrom, Mujid S. Kazimi and Jiang Wang.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 31, 2000.