David Gross

  • Permanent Member and holder of the Chancellor's Chair Professor of Theoretical Physics at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics
  • Professor of Physics, Department of Physics at University of California, Santa Barbara, U.S.A.

  • 2004 Nobel Prize Winner in Physics

Biographical Sketch

David Gross received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1962. He received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1966 then spent three years as Junior Fellow at Harvard University. In 1973 he was promoted to Professor at Princeton University and in 1986, named Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics there. He served as Director of the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) at the University of California, Santa Barbara from 1997 to 2012 and is presently a Permanent Member at the KITP where he holds the Chancellor's Chair Professor in Theoretical Physics. 

He has been a central figurein particle physics and string theory. In 1973, his discovery, with his student Frank Wilczek, of asymptotic freedom—the primary feature of non-Abelian gauge theories—led Gross and Wilczek to the formulation of Quantum Chromodynamics, the theory of the strong nuclear force. Asymptotic freedom is a phenomenon where the nuclear force weakens at short distances, which explains why experiments at very high energy can be understood as if nuclear particles are made of non-interacting quarks. The flip side of asymptotic freedom is that the force between quarks grows stronger as one tries to separate them. This is the reason why the nucleus of an atom can never be broken into its quark constituents. 

QCD completed the Standard Model, which details the three basic forces of particle physics--the electromagnetic force, the weak force, and the strong force. Gross was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics, with Politzer and Wilczek, for this discovery.

He has also made seminal contributions to the theory of Superstrings, a burgeoning enterprise that brings gravity into the quantum framework. With collaborators, he originated the "Heterotic String Theory," the prime candidate for a unified theory of all the forces of nature. He continues to do research in this field at the KITP, a world center of physics. 

His awards include the Sakurai Prize, MacArthur Prize, Dirac Medal, Oscar KleinMedal, Harvey Prize, the EPS Particle Physics Prize, the Grande Médaille d’Or, the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2004, and the Medal of Honor of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Dubna. 

He holds honorary degrees from the US, Britain, France, Israel, Argentina, Brazil, Belgium, China, the Philippines and Cambodia. His memberships includes the US National Academy of Science, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, l'Academie Internationale de Philosophie des Sciences, the Indian Academy of Science, the Chinese Academy of Science, the Russian Academy of Sciences and TWAS. 

In 2016, he began a four-year term in the Presidential Line of the American Physical Society, where he is currently President-Elect.

Awards and Honors

NSF Graduate Fellowship, 1963-66

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow, 1970-74

J. J. Sakurai Prize of the American Physical Society, 1986

MacArthur Foundation Fellowship Prize, 1987

Dirac Medal, International Center for Theoretical Physics, 1988

Oscar Klein Medal, Royal Swedish Academy, 2000

Harvey Prize, Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, 2000

High Energy and Particle Physics Prize, European Physical Society, 2003

Grande Médaille d’Or de l’Académie des Sciences, France, 2004 

Nobel Prize in Physics, 2004

Recipient Golden Plate Award, Academy of Achievement, 2005

San Carlos Boromero Award, University of San Carlos, Philippines, 2008

Richard E. Prange Prize , University of Maryland, 2013

Medal of Honor of the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, Dubna, Russia 2016


Honorary Doctorates and Professorships:

Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa, University of Montpellier, 2000

Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa, Hebrew University, Jerusalem, 2001

Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa, Sao Paulo University, Brazil, 2006

Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa, Ohio State University, 2007

Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa, University of the Philippines, Manila, 2008

Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa, De La Salle University, Manila, 2008

Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa, University of Cambridge, England, 2008

Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 2008

Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa, University of Cambodia, 2010

Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa, Université Libre de Bruxelles, 2010

Honorary Doctoral Degree, University of Chinese Academy of Sciences, 2016

Doctor Philosophiae Honoris Causa, Universidad Nacional de Tucumán, Argentina, 2016

Einstein Professor, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 2005

Honorary Professor, Zhejiang University, 2005

Honorary Professor, Xieman University, 2006

Honorary Professor, Xian University, 2006

Honorary Professor, ESPOL University, Ecuador, 2006

Honorary Professor, Langzhou University, 2007

Honorary Professor, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China, 2010

Honorary Professor, Xian Jiao Tong University, China, 2012

Honorary Professor, Huaqiao University, Xiamen, China, 2012

Honorary Director,   Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics/CAS, Beijing, China, 2006-

Solvay Centenary Chair, Solvay Institute, Brussels, 2011

Lee Kong Chian Distinguished Professor, Institute for Advanced Study, Singapore, 2013

Lorentz Professor, Leiden University, Netherlands, 2014