Stanford University is home to twenty living Nobel laureates.
Twelve additional Stanford laureates are deceased. The business of "claiming" laureates can be controversial: Where and when was a winner's work done? Stanford, for example, lists but does not claim laureates who are not on the faculty, even if they have a significant Stanford connection. And Stanford does not list winners with a more fleeting or tenuous connection. John Steinbeck, the 1962 literature winner, for instance, did not make the cut although he attended Stanford -- receiving a "C" in freshman English in 1919 and dropping out in 1921, only to reenter the university as a journalism major in 1923 and drop out again in 1925.
Note: Linus Pauling, d.1994, won two Nobel prizes: Chemistry (1954) and Peace (1962).
Stanford’s Nobel Laureates
Economic Sciences (2012)
Thomas J Sargent
Economic Sciences (2011)
A. Michael Spence
Economic Sciences (2001)
Joseph E. Stiglitz
Economic Sciences (2001)
Economic Sciences (1997)
William F. Sharpe
Economic Sciences (1990)
Richard E. Taylor
Kenneth J. Arrow
Economic Sciences (1972)
Economic Sciences (1992); died 2014; "for having extended the domain of microeconomic analysis to a wide range of human behavior and interaction, including nonmarket behavior." Becker was a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution from 1990 until he died. He was also a professor at the University of Chicago.
Physics (1952); died 1983; with Edward Mills Purcell "for their development of new methods for nuclear magnetic precision measurements and discoveries in connection therewith." Bloch, a professor of physics, came to Stanford in 1934 and became emeritus in 1971.
Chemistry (1974); died 1985; "for his fundamental achievements, both theoretical and experimental, in the physical chemistry of the macromolecules." Flory, a professor of chemistry, came to Stanford in 1961 and became emeritus in 1975.
Economics (1976) died 2006; awarded the Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel "for his achievements in the fields of consumption analysis, monetary history and theory, and for his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy." Friedman was a senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution from 1977 until he died. He was also a professor emeritus at the University of Chicago.
Physics (1961); died 1990; "for his pioneering studies of electron scattering in atomic nuclei and for his thereby achieved discoveries concerning the structure of the nucleons." Hofstadter, a professor of physics, came to Stanford in 1950 and became emeritus in 1985.
Medicine (1959) died 2007; Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine with Severo Ochoa "for their discovery of the mechanisms in the biological synthesis of ribonucleic acid and deoxyribonucleic acid." Kornberg, a professor of biochemistry at the School of Medicine, came to Stanford in 1959 and became emeritus in 1988.
Economic sciences (1993); died 2015; with Robert W. Fogel “for having renewed research in economic history by applying economic theory and quantitative methods in order to explain economic and institutional change.” North was the Bartlett Burnap Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution from 1997 to 2015.
Linus C. Pauling
Chemistry (1954); peace (1962); died 1994; at the time of the awards at the California Institute of Technology; chemistry: "for his research into the nature of the chemical bond and its application to the elucidation of the structure of complex substances"; peace: for his efforts to bring about an international ban on nuclear testing and to promote world peace. Pauling, a professor of chemistry, came to Stanford in 1969 and became emeritus in 1975.
Physics (1995); died 2014; "for the discovery of the tau lepton." He shared the award "for pioneering experimental contributions to lepton physics" with Frederick Reines, who was cited "for the detection of the neutrino." Perl, who came to Stanford in 1963, was a professor at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory until he died.
Arthur L. Schawlow
Physics (1981); died 1999; with Nicolaas Bloembergen "for their contribution to the development of laser spectroscopy." Schawlow, a professor of physics, came to Stanford in 1961 and became emeritus in 1991.
Physics (1956); died 1989; at the time of the award at the Semiconductor Laboratory of Beckman Instruments; with John Bardeen and Walter Houser Brattain "for their researches on semiconductors and their discovery of the transistor effect." Shockley, a professor of electrical engineering, came to Stanford in 1963 and became emeritus in 1975.
Chemistry (1983) died 2005; Nobel Prize in chemistry "for his work on the mechanisms of electron transfer reactions, especially in metal complexes." Taube, a professor chemistry, came to Stanford in 1962 and became emeritus in 2001.
Other Nobel Connections
Eric A. Cornell shared the 2001 physics prize with Carl E. Wieman and Wolfgang Ketterle "for creating Bose-Einstein condensation using laser cooling and evaporation techniques." Cornell, a senior scientist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and professor adjoint at the University of Colorado-Boulder, received his bachelor’s degree in physics from Stanford in 1985. Wieman received his doctorate from Stanford in 1977 and is currently a Professor of Physics and of the Graduate School of Education at Stanford University.
Robert H. Grubbs, chemistry (2005), was an NIH postdoctoral fellow at Stanford in 1968-69 working with chemistry Professor James Collman. Grubbs, a professor of chemistry at Caltech, was cited with Yves Chauvin and Richard R. Schrock “for the development of the metathesis method in organic synthesis.”
Theodor Hänsch, physics (2005), was at Stanford from 1970 to 1986 (postdoc–professor). Since 1986 at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich and the Max-Planck-Institut für Quantenoptik, he was cited with John L. Hall “for their contributions to the development of laser-based precision spectroscopy, including the optical frequency comb technique.” They share the Nobel Prize with Roy J. Glauber.
John C. Harsanyi, economic sciences (1994), earned a Stanford degree: Ph.D. '59 in economics. The University of California-Berkeley professor was cited with John F. Nash and Reinhard Selten "for their pioneering analysis of equilibria in the theory of non-cooperative games." Harsanyi died Aug. 9, 2000.
Dudley Herschbach, chemistry (1986), holds two Stanford degrees: B.S. '54 in mathematics and M.S. '55 in chemistry. The Harvard professor was cited with Yuan T. Lee and John C. Polanyi "for their contributions concerning the dynamics of chemical elementary processes."
Paul Krugman, economic sciences (2008), of Princeton University is a former member of the Stanford faculty. He was cited “for his analysis of trade patterns and location of economic activity.” Krugman was at Stanford from 1994 to 1996 (visiting professor in 1993-94).
Willis E. Lamb Jr., physics (1955), was a professor at Stanford at the time of his award; he left for Oxford University in 1956. Lamb was cited "for his discoveries concerning the fine structure of the hydrogen spectrum." At Stanford 1951-56; Oxford 1956-62; Yale 1962-74; Arizona 1974-2008; died 2008.
Joshua Lederberg, physiology or medicine (1958), of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, at the time of his award, was chair of genetics at Stanford for several years. Lederberg shared the 1958 prize with two professors who left Stanford before they became Nobelists: George Beadle and Edward Tatum. Lederberg was cited "for his discoveries concerning genetic recombination and the organization of the genetic material of bacteria." Beadle and Tatum were cited "for their discovery that genes act by regulating definite chemical events."
- Lederberg: At Stanford 1959-78; Rockefeller University, 1978-1990; died 2008.
- Beadle: At Stanford 1937-47; Caltech, 1947-61; Chicago, 1961-75; died 1989.
- Tatum: At Stanford 1937-45 and 1948-57; Yale, 1945-48; Rockefeller Institute, 1957-75; died 1975.
Paul Modrich, chemistry (2015), received his PhD in biochemistry from Stanford in 1973. The professor of biochemistry at Duke University School of Medicine was cited with Tomas Lindahl and Aziz Sancar “for mechanistic studies of DNA repair.”
Ferid Murad, physiology or medicine (1998), of the University of Texas Medical School at Houston, is a former professor of medicine at Stanford. He was cited with Robert F. Furchgott and Louis J. Ignarro "for their discoveries concerning nitric oxide as a signalling molecule in the cardiovascular system." Murad was affiliated with the University of Virginia, 1975-81; Stanford, 1981-89; Abbott Laboratories, 1990-92; Molecular Geriatrics Corp., 1993-95; University of Texas Medical School, 1996-present.
James E. Rothman, physiology or medicine (2013), of Yale University was a member of the Stanford faculty from 1978 to 1988. He was cited with Thomas C. Südhof, professor of molecular and cellular physiology at Stanford, and Randy W. Schekman “for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells.”
Randy W. Schekman, physiology or medicine (2013), holds a Stanford degree: PhD ’75 in biochemistry. Schekman is a professor of molecular and cell biology at the University of California, Berkeley. He was cited with Thomas C. Südhof, professor of molecular and cellular physiology at Stanford, and James E. Rothman “for their discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells.”
Melvin Schwartz, physics (1988), was a consulting professor at Stanford at the time of his award; he was a faculty member from 1966 to 1983. He shared the award with Leon M. Lederman and Jack Steinberger "for the neutrino beam method and the demonstration of the doublet structure of the leptons through the discovery of the muon neutrino." At Digital Pathways, Mountain View, Calif., 1983-91; Columbia, 1991-2000; died 2006.
K. Barry Sharpless, chemistry (2001), earned a Stanford degree: Ph.D. '68 in chemistry. The Scripps Research Institute professor was cited "for his work on chirally catalysed oxidation reactions."
Oliver Williamson, economic sciences (2009), holds a Stanford degree: MBA ’60. A professor at the University of California, Berkeley, he was cited "for his analysis of economic governance, especially the boundaries of the firm." He shared the award with Elinor Ostrom.
International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1985. Herbert L. Abrams, professor emeritus of radiology, is a co-founder (1980) and member of that organization
The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.” Six Stanford scholars are lead authors of several major IPPC reports. The Stanford researchers, who are among roughly 2,000 scientists and policy experts from around the world who have contributed to the IPCC’s work, are Chris Field, professor of biology and of environmental Earth system science and director of the Carnegie Institution’s Department of Global Ecology at Stanford; Thomas Heller, professor of law and senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment and at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies; Michael Mastrandrea, assistant consulting professor at the Woods Institute and lecturer in the School of Earth Sciences; Terry Root, senior fellow at the Woods Institute; Stephen Schneider (d. 2010), professor of biology and senior fellow at the Woods Institute; and John Weyant, professor (research) of management science and engineering.