The University of Chicago News Office
December 12, 1995 Press Contact: Larry Arbeiter
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White House Announces University of Chicago Physicist Wins Prestigious Enrico Fermi Award

Ugo Fano, a theoretical atomic physicist at the University of Chicago, has won the Enrico Fermi award, the White House announced Tuesday.

Fano, 83, is being honored for sixty years of research in atomic physics that helped lead to the development of lasers and explain the way light and atoms interact. Fano was an advanced student of Fermi’s in Italy before they both emigrated to the U.S. in the 1930s. Although Fermi came to the University in 1942, Fano did not become a member of the faculty here until 1966, more than a decade after Fermi’s death.

“I am delighted that the Enrico Fermi award–which honors the name and work of one of the University of Chicago’s most distinguished scientists, will be presented to our faculty member Ugo Fano and our alumnus Martin Kamen,” said President Hugo Sonnenschein.

“Both made discoveries that changed our understanding of the physical world and affected our lives in very basic ways. On this campus, Ugo Fano has extended himself to his students and colleagues for nearly 30 years, in the same way his teacher, Enrico Fermi, did throughout his life,” Sonnenschein added.

Fano is sharing the Fermi Award with chemist Martin Kamen, 82, who discovered the Carbon 14 isotope. University of Chicago chemist Willard Libby discovered that Carbon 14 could be used to revolutionize the field of archeological dating, a discovery that earned Libby the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1960.

Fano’s great influence on atomic physics is shown by the several physical phenomena that are named after him, and by the fact that one of his research papers is the most widely cited paper in modern atomic physics.

Although he became emeritus in 1982, Fano has remained active in research and teaching. He has led 26 graduate students to their Ph.D. degrees, the most recent just this spring, and he and a student submitted another paper on “a new approach to calculations in atomic and molecular physics” just last month.

Kamen received both his B.S. and Ph.D degrees in chemistry from the University of Chicago before working at several universities in the midwest and California, where he is now retired.

The Fermi Award honors Enrico Fermi, the Italian-born physicist who in 1942 led a group of scientists at the University of Chicago to create the first controlled and self-sustaining, nuclear chain reaction. The awards were approved by the President on the recommendation of Hazel O’Leary, Secretary of the Department of Energy. The award was given most recently in 1994.
Last modified at 03:50 PM CST on Wednesday, June 14, 2000.

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