Prize Recipient

Recipient Picture

William A. Zajc
Columbia University


"For his contributions to Relativistic Heavy-Ion Physics, in particular for his leading role in the PHENIX experiment, as well as for his seminal work on identical two-particle density interferometry as an experimental tool."


William Zajc received his bachelor's degree from the California Institute of Technology in 1975. He performed his graduate work with Kenneth Crowe at UC-Berkeley, where he applied identical particle interferometry to nuclear collisions at the Berkeley Bevalac. After obtaining his Ph.D. in 1982, he worked at the University of Pennsylvania as a postdoctoral researcher and assistant professor, studying energy spectra, jet production and identical particle interferometry in nuclear collisions at the CERN ISR. He moved to Columbia in 1986, where he is currently Professor of Physics and Department Chair.

Zajc served as spokesperson for the PHENIX Experiment at Brookhaven National Laboratory's Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider (RHIC) from 1997 to 2006. He was instrumental in initiating the white paper process in which the four RHIC experiments undertook the important process of summarizing and consolidating the RHIC discoveries, leading to the announcement of the "perfect liquid" in 2005.

Zajc is a Fellow of the APS and the AAAS. He serves on the Brookhaven Science and Technology Steering Committee, and has served as Chair of the Division of Nuclear Physics (2010), as well on the Thomas Jefferson National Laboratory Science Council, the NRC Committee on Assessment and Outlook for Nuclear Physics, the Nuclear Science Advisory Committee (NSAC), the NSAC Long-Range Planning Working Groups in 1995, 2001-2002, 2005, 2007-2008, the National Advisory Committee for the Institute for Nuclear Theory and the editorial board of Annual Reviews of Nuclear and Particle Science

Selection Committee:

Susan Seestrom, Chair; M. Moe; M. Savage; D. Dean; B. Jacak