Stanford University

News Service



Dawn Levy, News Service (650) 725-1944; e-mail:

Stanford's Nobel Prize-winning faculty, then and now

"The Farm" is home to 15 living Nobel laureates ­ 12 affiliated with the university and three affiliated with the Hoover Institution. Six 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.


Stanford University laureates:

Kenneth J. Arrow, the Joan Kenney Professor of Economics and Professor of Operations Research, Emeritus; at Stanford 1949-68, 1979­present. Awarded the 1972 Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel with John R. Hicks "for their pioneering contributions to general economic equilibrium theory and welfare theory."


Since receiving the prize, Arrow has concentrated on research in economic theory and, to a lesser extent, operations. He has engaged in collective studies designed to influence energy and environmental policy. He has participated in the National Research Council and presided over several learned societies. At Stanford, he has served as a chair of the Faculty Advisory Board and of the Faculty Senate.


Paul Berg, the Robert W. and Vivian K. Cahill Professor of Cancer Research, Emeritus, and director emeritus of the Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine; at Stanford 1959­present. Awarded the 1980 Nobel Prize in chemistry "for his fundamental studies of the biochemistry of nucleic acids, with particular regard to recombinant DNA." The other half of the award went to Walter Gilbert and Frederick Sanger "for their contributions concerning the determination of base sequences in nucleic acids."


Since receiving the prize, Berg has continued to conduct research in the Department of Biochemistry, where his focus is the mechanism of repairing DNA damage. He continues to influence federal policy regarding stem cell research, biotechnology and human cloning.


Steven Chu, the Theodore and Frances Geballe Professor of Physics and Applied Physics; at Stanford 1987­present. Awarded the 1997 Nobel Prize in physics with Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and William D. Phillips "for development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light."


Since receiving the prize, Chu has continued his studies of laser cooling and trapping of atoms and their applications. He also has expanding his research scope to include polymer physics and biophysics at the single-molecule level. As virtually all knowledge of chemical and biochemical processes has been deduced from experiments on bulk samples of molecules, looking at individual molecules ­ such as those involved in DNA replication, RNA transcription and protein folding ­ may elucidate their complex behavior. Chu served as chair of the Physics Department from 1990 to 1993 and from 1999 to September 2001 and is a member of the executive committee for Bio-X, an interdisciplinary research initiative at Stanford.


Arthur Kornberg, the Emma Pfeiffer Merner Professor of Biochemistry, Emeritus; at Stanford 1959­present. Awarded the 1959 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."


Since receiving the prize, Kornberg has focused on research. From 1960 to 1990, he conducted research that led to his discovery of how DNA chains are started and elongated at the fork of the replicating DNA and how the replication of chromosomes is started and terminated. Since 1990, he has shifted his focus to inorganic polyphosphate (poly P), a long polymer of phosphates found in every living cell and conserved from prebiotic life on Earth. Kornberg's research is showing that poly P, long regarded as a molecular fossil, has many important functions, including cellular responses to stress and starvation. It also is essential for the virulence of bacteria that cause many infectious diseases.


Robert Laughlin, the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Professor in the School of Humanities and Sciences; professor of physics and applied physics; at Stanford 1985­present. Awarded the 1998 Nobel Prize in physics with Horst L. Störmer and Daniel C. Tsui "for their discovery of a new form of quantum fluid with fractionally charged excitations."


Since receiving the prize, Laughlin has supported recruitment of talented new faculty and continued to expand the depth and scope of his own research, which is theoretical and focuses on how self-organization and self-assembly arise in nature. This theme is applicable in fields as diverse as cosmology and biology, explaining Laughlin's work on topics including subtle ordering phenomena in correlated-electron materials, the physics of transcription regulation in biology and the quantum mechanics of black holes. About one-third of his research students are undergraduates.


Douglas Osheroff, the J. G. Jackson and C. J. Wood Professor of Physics; at Stanford 1987­present. Awarded the 1996 Nobel Prize in physics with David M. Lee and Robert C. Richardson "for their discovery of superfluidity in helium-3."


Since receiving the prize, Osheroff's research has continued to focus on the properties of matter near Absolute Zero. He recently received a NASA grant to carry out two fundamental physics experiments to further explore the properties of superfluid helium-3. He participates in numerous outreach efforts to encourage scientific education both inside and outside the university. He teaches in the Physics Department, where he recently became chair.


Martin Perl, professor at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC); at Stanford 1963­present. Awarded the 1995 Nobel Prize in physics "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."


Since receiving the prize, Perl has continued in basic scientific research. He conducts what he calls "unpopular experiments in elementary particle physics that could yield unexpected and profound results." These experiments consist of searches for isolated elementary particles with a fraction of the electric charge of the electron. (All elementary particles either have no electric charge, or the same charge as the electron, or some integer multiple of that charge.) Most scientists in particle physics, astrophysics and cosmology do not believe such particles exist, but Perl thinks that searches for them have not been comprehensive and that no accepted theory objects to their existence. His group is looking for these particles in meteoritic material from an asteroid formed four or five billion years ago when the solar system was new. Perl also works on the SLAC-based B Factory collaboration to study matter and antimatter.


Burton Richter, the Paul Pigott Professor in the Physical Sciences at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center; at Stanford 1956­present. Awarded the 1976 Nobel Prize in physics with Samuel C. C. Ting "for their pioneering work in the discovery of a heavy elementary particle of a new kind."


Since receiving the prize, Richter has pursued research and administration. From 1976 to 1982, he continued his research at SLAC, but extension of the work required a major advance in high-energy accelerators. Richter went into administration, serving as director of SLAC from 1984 to 1999, to turn that vision into what is now a reality. He has since returned to physics research, focusing mainly on neutrino physics, and science policy. He is the current president of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics.


Myron S. Scholes, the Frank E. Buck Professor of Finance, Emeritus; at Stanford's Graduate School of Business 1983-1996. Senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution 1987-1996. Awarded the 1997 Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel with Robert C. Merton "for a new method to determine the value of derivatives."


Since receiving the prize, Scholes has used his background in options pricing, capital markets, tax policies and the financial services industry as a managing partner for Oak Hill Capital Management. He also is involved in the private and public investment groups of the Robert M. Bass organization. He also consults widely with many financial institutions, corporations and exchanges and continues to lecture worldwide. Scholes was a principal and limited partner at Long-Term Capital Management, L.P., an investment management firm, from 1993 to 1998.


William F. Sharpe, the STANCO 25 Professor in the Graduate School of Business, Emeritus; at Stanford 1970­present. Awarded the 1990 Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel with Harry M. Markowitz and Merton H. Miller "for their pioneering work in the theory of financial economics."


Since receiving the prize, Sharpe has focused on research, teaching and helping found a company designed to bring knowledge from the field of financial economics to bear on the problems individual investors have saving and investing for retirement. Since 1996, the company, Financial Engines, has employed computer and communications technology to make high-quality advice available to individuals at low cost.


Henry Taube, the Marguerite Blake Wilbur Professor of Chemistry, Emeritus; at Stanford 1962­present. Awarded the 1983 Nobel Prize in chemistry "for his work on the mechanisms of electron transfer reactions, especially in metal complexes."


After receiving the prize, he continued lecturing for a few years, noting "considerable improvement in the attentiveness of my students, though little in the message or the way it was transmitted had changed." He still contributes information for Stanford's introductory seminars but discontinued his research in August of this year. He continues to engage in professional activities, such as reviewing papers and consulting, but his major focus, he says, is "enjoying life."


Richard E. Taylor, the Lewis M. Terman Professor at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center; at Stanford 1952-1958 and 1962­present. Awarded the 1990 Nobel Prize in Physics with Jerome I. Friedman and Henry W. Kendall "for their pioneering investigations concerning deep inelastic scattering of electrons on protons and bound neutrons, which have been of essential importance for the development of the quark model in particle physics."


Since receiving the prize, Taylor has continued research at SLAC and in the Physics Department. His research interests include experimental particle physics, gravitational waves and space-based X-ray and gamma-ray astronomy.


Hoover Institution laureates:

Gary Becker, the Rose-Marie and Jack R. Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and University Professor of Economics and Sociology at the University of Chicago; at Hoover 1990­present. Awarded the 1992 Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel "for having extended the domain of microeconomic analysis to a wide range of human behavior and interaction, including nonmarket behavior."


Since receiving the prize, Becker has focused his research on habits and addictions, formation of preferences, human capital and population growth. He is a columnist for Business Week and served as an economic policy adviser in the 1996 Bob Dole presidential campaign.


Milton Friedman, senior research fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Paul Snowden Russell Distinguished Service Professor of Economics, Emeritus, at the University of Chicago; at Hoover 1977­present. Awarded the 1976 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."


Since receiving the prize, Friedman has continued research into monetary matters in economics, analysis of public policies and their effects, writing op-ed pieces for newspapers and giving talks. He retired from teaching at the University of Chicago near the time he won the prize. He was an informal economic adviser to President Ronald Reagan. He also has written extensively on public policy with an emphasis on preserving and extending individual freedom. From 1937 to 1981, he was a member of the research staff of the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Douglass C. North, the Bartlett Burnap Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the Spencer T. Olin Professor in Arts and Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis; at Hoover 1997­present. Awarded the 1993 Bank of Sweden Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 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."


Since receiving the prize, North has conducted research in topics including property rights, transaction costs, economic organization in history, growth of government, and economic and social change. In 1996, he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy.


In memory of Stanford's deceased laureates:

Felix Bloch, physics (1952); died 1983; with Edward Mill

© Stanford University. All Rights Reserved. Stanford, CA 94305. (650) 723-2300. Terms of Use  |  Copyright Complaints