by Mark Alber,
Professor of Mathematics and Physics,
University of Notre Dame,
On March 21, 2005, Professor Joel Lebowitz, Director of the Center for Math Sciences Research, Rutgers University, USA, received the Nicholson Medal for humanitarian service from the American Physical Society at its annual meeting in Los Angeles. (The Medal was established in 1994 in honor of Prof. Dwight Nicholson, noted expert
in plasma physics and Chairman of the Iowa University Physics and Astronomy Department, who died tragically in 1991. - Note of editor). The Society citied Joel Lebowitz for his “tireless personal activism throughout his superb career … in helping scientists and defending their human rights in countries around the globe.” He is the 11th winner of the award.
Joel Lebowitz is a native of Czechoslovakia who experienced oppression first-hand as a childhood survivor of the Auschwitz concentration camp. He has been one of the most active supporters of dissident scientists in the former Soviet Union, especially refusenik scientists. Through Joel Lebowitz’s leadership in bodies such as the Committee of Concerned Scientists and the New York Academy of Sciences, he helped to maintain international pressure on the Soviet Union to respect human rights agreements. He frequently visited the Moscow Sunday Refusenik Scientific Seminar and sponsored several Moscow Conferences on Collective Phenomena (see poster below).
Professor Joel Lebowitz is one of the world's leading experts in statistical mechanics, which studies the relationship between physical laws and the microscopic structure and behavior of matter. He is a member of the US National Academy of Sciences, and in 1979 he was a president of the New York Academy of Sciences. His honors include the Henri Poincaré Prize for mathematical physics, the Boltzmann Medal, the Max Planck Research Award, an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from Clark University in Massachusetts and Hon. Doctorate, Ecole Poly. Federale, Laussane, Switzerland.
(From the Solomon Alber collection)