© The Nobel Foundation
Leon M. Lederman

American Jewish Recipients of the Nobel Prize


Leon M. Lederman: Nobel Prize Recipient in Physics-1988
by Seymour “Sy” Brody

Leon M. Lederman is an American Jewish recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics, 1988, which he shared with Melvin Schwartz and Jack Steinberger for the neutrino method and demonstration of the doublet structure of the leptons through the discovery of a muon neutrino.

He was born on May 15, 1922, in New York City, New York, of immigrant Jewish parents. His father, Morris, owned a hand laundry and his older brother. Paul, was a tinkerer. He went through the New York City school system. Lederman received his B.S. Degree from the City College of New York, in 1943. In World War II, he served three years in the United States Army Signal Corps and became a 2nd Lieutenant.

He enrolled in Columbia University and received Ph.D. in Physics, in 1951. His thesis assignment was building a Wilson Cloud Chamber. After he graduated, he was asked to become a member of the faculty and stayed for 28 years. In 1958, he was promoted to Professor.

In 1961, he became the Director of the Nevis Labs and he was there for seventeen years. From 1951 to 1979 at Columbia University, he had 50 Ph.D. students, 14 are professors of physics, one is a university president. He became the Director Emeritus of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

Lederman had three children with his first wife, Florence Gordon. His daughter, Rena is an anthropologist, his son, Jesse is an investment banker and his daughter Rachel, a lawyer. He lives with his second wife, Ellen, in Batavia, Illinois, near the Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory.

Leon M. Lederman has many awards and honors:
● The National Medal of Science, 1965
● Elliot Cresson Medal of the Franklin Institute, 1976
● Wolf Prize in Physics, 1982
● The Enrico Fermi Prize, 1993
● Guggenheim Fellowship
● President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science
● A member of the National Academy of Science
● A founding member of the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel
● He serves on the Board of the Weizmann Institute in Israel.
● He has received honorary doctorate degrees from the City College of
New York, University of Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology, Northern Illinois University, Lake Forest College and Carnegie Mellon University.
● He has received honorary doctorate degrees from the University, Pisa, Italy and the University of Guanajuarto, Mexico.
● He has been elected to the National Academy of Science, Finland, and the National Academy of Science in Argentina


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