Professor Frank Wilczek is one of the world’s most accomplished and creative theoretical physicists. Born in New York City in 1951, he obtained his B.S. in mathematics from the University of Chicago, and master degrees in mathematics and physics and Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University. He became full Professor at Princeton at the age of 28. In 1980, he joined the new Institute for Theoretical Physics at Santa Barbara, where he became the Chancellor Robert Huttenbach Professor of Physics. In 1990, he moved to the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton, where he was the J. Robert Oppenheimer Professor. In 2000, he took the Herman Feshbach chair of Physics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is also Adjunct Professor at the Centro de Estudios Científicos of Valdivia, Chile (since 2002). He has been a Sloan Foundation Fellow, MacArthur Foundation Fellow, visiting professor at Harvard University and Lorentz Professor at Leiden University.
Professor Wilczek is best known for the discovery of asymptotic freedom, the development of quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the invention of axions, and the discovery and exploitation of new forms of quantum statistics (anyons). When only 21 years old and a graduate student at Princeton University working with D. Gross, he defined the properties of color gluons, which hold atomic nuclei together. This groundbreaking discovery made possible the elucidation of QCD as the correct model for the Strong Force, one of the four known forces in nature.
In addition to around 450 scientific articles and an impressive list of invited lectures, Professor Wilczek also devotes considerable effort to reflecting on the broader philosophical meaning of results in modern physics, and to communicating these results to a broader scientific audience. He contributes regularly to Physics Today and to Nature explaining topics at the frontiers of Physics. These efforts have been warmly received and have won him the Lilienfeld Prize. His popular lecture “The World’s Numerical Recipe” is globally available on the Internet, while two of his pieces were anthologized in Best American Scientific Writing (2003, 2005). Together with his wife, he wrote a beautiful book, Longing for the Harmonies.
Wilczek’s selection for the King Faisal International Prize came almost simultaneously with his Nobel Prize award in 2004. His outstanding contributions have also earned him many other prizes and honors including the UNESCO’s Dirac Medal, the Sakurai Prize of the American Physical Society, the Michelson Prize from Case Western University and the Lorentz Medal of the Netherlands Academy. He is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences of the United States, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, and the Netherlands Academy of Sciences. He is a Trustee of the University of Chicago, Editor in Chief of Annals of Physics and advisory editor or member of editorial board for several other periodicals.
Professor Frank Wilczek, has been awarded the prize, in recognition of his outstanding contributions to theoretical physics, particularly elucidation of Quantum Chromodynamics as the correct model to the Strong Force, as well as his numerous other achievements in cosmology, particle theory and solid-state physics.