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2007 Philip Hauge Abelson Prize Recipient

2007 Award Recipients

AAAS Philip Hauge Abelson Prize


Burton Richter

Burton Richter is recognized for his world-class contributions to research, his successful management of a leading scientific laboratory, and his unrelenting efforts to advance science and to promote its responsible use in shaping public policy.

The Philip Hauge Abelson Prize, established in 1985, is awarded either to a public servant, in recognition of sustained exceptional contributions to advancing science, or to a scientist whose career has been distinguished both for scientific achievement and for other notable services to the scientific community. The recipient receives $5,000 and a commemorative plaque.

Burton Richter is Senior Fellow at the Freeman Spogli Institute for

International Studies, Paul Pigott Professor Emeritus in the Physical Sciences at Stanford University, and former director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. He is widely considered to be one of the greats of American and international science.

After receiving his B.S. and Ph.D. degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1952 and 1956, respectively, he accepted a post-doctoral position at Stanford University’s High Energy Physics Laboratory. There he was seized with the idea to test the accepted theory of Quantum Electrodynamics by several methods. One of these approaches was the use of electron-electron storage rings at Stanford. That interest in storage rings persisted after he joined the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) Faculty. After heading one of SLAC’s research groups, he gathered a team promoting the construction of the Stanford Positron-Electron Asymmetric Ring (SPEAR), the first electron-positron storage ring. With it, he discovered a new subatomic particle he called a psi particle (now called a J/? particle). The same discovery was made independently by Samuel Ting, and the two scientists were jointly awarded the 1976 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work.

After serving two years as Technical Director, he became Director of SLAC from 1984 through 1999. During his tenure, SLAC prospered and broadened its interests into photon science by incorporating the synchrotron laboratory into its structure. Since 1999, he has been devoting an increasing amount of time to issues relating to energy and sustainable development.

In addition to the Nobel Prize, Dr. Richter has received many other honors and awards. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences; a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Fellow and Past-President of the American Physical Society (1994); and Past-President of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (1999-2002).

He currently chairs the subcommittee on Advanced Nuclear Transmutation Technologies of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Nuclear Energy Research Advisory Committee, and the American Physical Society’s Study Group on Energy Efficiency. He is a member of the French Commissaire a l’Energie Atomique (CEA) Visiting Group, the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Advisory Board, and the JASON Group.

Please click here for a list of past recipients.