Nobel physicist named first Metcalf Professor of Science

Renowned theoretical physicist Sheldon Lee Glashow will join the CAS faculty in July as the first Arthur G. B. Metcalf Professor of Science, BU President Jon Westling announced April 12. He will hold joint appointments as a University Professor and as a professor in the physics department.

Glashow shared the 1979 Nobel Prize for physics with Steven Weinberg and Abdus Salam for unifying the theories of weak and electromagnetic forces. The new "electroweak" theory underlies all of particle physics and provides a framework for understanding how the early universe evolved and how the chemical elements were created. Currently, Glashow is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics at Harvard University, where he has taught since 1966.

"Glashow's work has been instrumental in our understanding of how our universe came into being," says Lawrence R. Sulak, chairman of the Boston University physics department. "In the years since winning the prize, Glashow has helped develop the Grand Unified Theory of all particles and all forces. Its predictions led to the construction of massive underground detectors, the refinement of the unification models, the first observation of neutrinos from a supernova, and the recent discovery that neutrinos have mass. Glashow has fueled an ongoing search for rare events and exotic effects that may shed further light on the evolution of the early universe."

Sheldon Lee Glashow, a Nobel-winning Harvard physics professor, will join the CAS physics department in July and become the first Arthur G. B. Metcalf Professor of Science. Photo by Kalman Zabarsky

Born in New York City in 1932 to Russian Jewish immigrants, Glashow received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1958 and joined the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley in 1962, before moving to Harvard. He is a member of the National Academy of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a foreign member of the Russian and Korean Academies of Science. Since 1984, he has been affiliated with Boston University as a Distinguished Scientist.

"I am delighted to be joining the vital and productive group of physicists at Boston University,' " says Glashow. "The BU physics department enjoys a higher level of funding per faculty member and a higher citation level than many top-rated departments in the nation. In the last decade over 35 national awards have honored this talented young faculty, which includes the leaders of five major research endeavors dear to my heart."

According to Boston University Chancellor John Silber, Glashow has been instrumental in shaping BU's department of physics.

"In 1984, Sheldon Glashow told me of the availability of five brilliant young experimentalists with the potential to win Nobel Prizes, a group led by Lawrence Sulak. With the support of our trustees, I recruited them. Their experimental searches are deeply intertwined with Glashow's theories. As an intellectual team they first conceived and built the IMB experiment under Lake Erie to test the theory of Grand Unification, and later enhanced its capabilities so that it not only became the first neutrino telescope but also pushed the limits of the Standard Model. That early collaboration of theory and experiment led to the discovery of neutrinos from a supernova and to the first hints of the neutrino mass. Very recently, data from the successor detector in Japan has produced the first solid evidence of physics beyond the Standard Model.

"Glashow has been the group's mentor and guide as Boston University's program in particle physics has moved from strength to strength," Silber continues. "At last, we have realized our long-cherished hope that Sheldon Glashow would come to Boston University full-time. We are pleased and honored to welcome him as our colleague."

Glashow's recent research involves many aspects of particle theory, cosmology, and classical mechanics. His most recent book is From Alchemy to Quarks: The Study of Physics as a Liberal Art (Brooks/Cole, 1994).

The BU Board of Trustees created the Metcalf Professorship of Science in honor of the late Arthur G. B. Metcalf (SED'35, Hon.'74), a pioneering educator, aviator, inventor, industrialist, and philanthropist. Metcalf created the University's Department of Aeronautical Engineering, which evolved into the College of Engineering. He served as a BU trustee for 41 years, 18 of them as chairman, and was one of the University's principal benefactors.

The Metcalf Center for Science and Engineering bears his name, as does Metcalf Hall in the George Sherman Union. During his lifetime, Metcalf also endowed the Metcalf Cup and Prize and the Metcalf Awards for Excellence in Teaching, the highest teaching honors the University confers. Two other Metcalf Professorships, endowed by the Metcalf Foundation, were announced late last year.