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Joel L. Lebowitz (born May 10, 1930 in Taceva, then in Czechoslovakia) is a mathematical physicist widely acknowledged for his outstanding contributions to statistical physics, statistical mechanics and many other fields of Mathematics and Physics.
Lebowitz has published more than five hundred papers concerning statistical physics and science in general, and he is one of the founders and editors of the Journal of Statistical Physics, one of the most important peer-reviewed journals concerning scientific research in this area. He has been president of the New York Academy of Sciences.
Lebowitz is the George William Hill Professor of Mathematics and Physics at Rutgers University. He is also an active member of the human rights community and a long-term co-Chair of the Committee of Concerned Scientists.
Joel Lebowitz was born in Taceva, then in Czechoslovakia, now Ukraine, in 1930 into a Jewish family. During World War II he was deported with his family to Auschwitz, where his father, his mother, and his younger sister were killed in 1944. After being liberated from the camp, he moved to United States by boat, and he studied in an Orthodox Jewish school, at Brooklyn College, and at Syracuse University. Here he got a PhD in 1956 under the supervision of Peter G. Bergmann. Then he continued his research with Lars Onsager, at Yale University, where he got a faculty position. He moved to the Stevens Institute of Technology in 1957 and to the Belfer Graduate School of Science of Yeshiva University in 1959. Finally he got a faculty position at Rutgers University in 1977, where he holds the prestigious George William Hill Professor position. During his years at the Yeshiva University and Rutgers University he has been in contact with several scientists, and artists, like Fumio Yoshimura and Kate Millett. In 1975 he founded the Journal of Statistical Physics. In 1979 he was president of the New York Academy of Sciences. He has been one of the most active supporters of dissident scientists in the former Soviet Union, especially refusenik scientists.
Contributions to science
Lebowitz has had many important contributions to statistical mechanics and mathematical physics. He proved, along with Elliott Lieb, that the Coulomb interactions obey the thermodynamic limit. He also established what are now known as Lebowitz inequalities for the ferromagnetic Ising model. His current interests are in problems of non-equilibrium statistical mechanics.
He founded the Journal of Statistical Physics in 1975, one of the most important journals in the field, and has been editor in chief ever since. Lebowitz hosts a biannual series of conferences  held, first at Yeshiva University and later at Rutgers University. He is also known as a co-editor of an influential review series, 'Phase transitions and critical phenomena'.
Awards and honors
He has been awarded several honors, such as the Boltzmann Medal (1992), the Nicholson Medal (1994) awarded by the American Physical Society, the Delmer S. Fahrney Medal (1995), the Henri Poincaré Prize (2000), the Volterra Award (2001), and many others. Among other recognitions, Lebowitz was awarded the Max Planck Medal in 2007 "for his important contributions to the statistical physics of equilibrium and non-equilibrium systems, in particular his contributions to the theory of phase transitions, the dynamics of infinite systems, and the stationary non-equilibrium states" and "for his promoting of new directions of this field at its farthest front, and for enthusiastically introducing several generations of scientists to the field." In 2014 he received the Grande Médaille of the French Academy of Sciences.
- Committee of Concerned Scientists, Leadership List. Committee of Concerned Scientists. Accessed June 28, 2008.
- Rutgers Physics News
- Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft, Pressemitteilung, 2006
- Grande Médaille of the French Academy of Sciences
- List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 2013-01-27.