Prize Recipient

Recipient Picture

John F. Ahearne
Sigma Xi


"For nearly four decades of selfless dedication to the nation, and for providing a voice of reason in advising on the use of physics for the benefit of society in areas as diverse as nuclear energy, arms control, risk communication, biological safety and ethics in science and engineering."


John Ahearne received a bachelor's degree in engineering physics from Cornell in 1957, an MS from Cornell in 1958, and a PhD in physics from Cornell in 1966. He taught physics at the US Air Force Academy, Colorado College, and the University of Colorado  Colorado Springs. Currently he is an adjunct professor of civil and environmental engineering at Duke University. His government service includes 11 years in the Air Force, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Systems Analysis, Principal Deputy and Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower and Reserve Affairs, White House Energy Office, Commissioner and Chairman, US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and chair and vice-chair of several Department of Energy committees. He has served as chair of the APS Forum on Physics and Society and of the APS Panel on Public Affairs. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering and has served on or chaired more than 20 National Academy Committees. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society, the AAAS, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Society for Risk Analysis.

Selection Committee:

Donald Prosnitz, Chair; J.L. Bonomo; A. Fainberg; R. Muller