MIT Professor Emeritus Robert J. Birgeneau, former head of the Department of Physics and dean of the School of Science, has been honored with the 2015 Darius and Susan Anderson Distinguished Service Award of the Institute of Governmental Studies at the University of California at Berkeley.
The award recognizes accomplished leaders who have “contributed to advancing the spirit of good government and improving the quality of public affairs for the state of California and the nation.” Previous awardees include U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown, Jr.
A leader in higher education, Birgeneau served from 2004 to 2013 as the ninth chancellor of the University of California at Berkeley, where he was known for his promotion of diversity and equity in the academic community, while advancing a vision of “access and excellence.” Under his leadership, Berkeley became the first major university in the United States to provide comprehensive financial aid to undocumented students.
Birgeneau is a renowned experimental condensed matter physicist, highly cited for his work on the fundamental properties of materials. His research has focused upon the phases and phase transition behavior of novel states of matter. With collaborators, he pioneered the use of X-ray synchrotron radiation for high resolution studies of condensed matter.
A fellow of the Royal Society of London, the American Philosophical Society, and the National Academy of Sciences, Birgeneau has received numerous honors for his research in physics, including the O. E. Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society and the K. T. Compton Medal of the American Institute of Physics.
The Institute of Governmental Studies (IGS) at the University of California at Berkeley promotes research, educational activities, and public service in American and Californian politics and public policy. The IGS is funded, in part, by grants from the National Science Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, and U. S. Department of Education.