Joel Lebowitz

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Joel Lebowitz
Lebowitz, Joel (1930)2.jpeg
Lebowitz in 2004
Born(1930-05-10)May 10, 1930
Alma materBrooklyn College
Syracuse University
Known forStatistical Physics
Statistical mechanics
AwardsBoltzmann Medal (1992)
Henri Poincaré Prize (2000)
Max Planck Medal (2007)
Grande Médaille (2014)
Scientific career
InstitutionsRutgers University
Yeshiva University
Stevens Institute of Technology
Yale University
ThesisStatistical Mechanics of Nonequilibrium Processes. (1956)
Doctoral advisorPeter G. Bergmann
Other academic advisorsLars Onsager
Doctoral studentsMichael Aizenman
Other notable studentsde:Detlef Dürr
Lebowitz (left) and Mitchell Feigenbaum (right) (1998)

Joel Louis Lebowitz (born May 10, 1930) is a mathematical physicist widely acknowledged for his outstanding contributions to statistical physics, statistical mechanics and many other fields of Mathematics and Physics.[1]

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.[2]


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 and Brooklyn College. He earned his PhD at Syracuse University in 1956 under the supervision of Peter G. Bergmann.[3] 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.

Scientific Legacy[edit]

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 became editor-in-chief the Journal of Statistical Physics in 1975, one of the most important journals in the field, and has been editor in chief ever since, till he resigned the position in September 2018. Lebowitz hosts a biannual series of conferences [4] held, first at Yeshiva University and later at Rutgers University, which has been running for 60 years. He is also known as a co-editor of an influential review series, 'Phase transitions and critical phenomena'.

Awards and honors[edit]

Lebowitz has been awarded several honors, such as the Boltzmann Medal (1992),[5] the Nicholson Medal (1994) awarded by the American Physical Society, the Delmer S. Fahrney Medal (1995), the Henri Poincaré Prize (2000),[6] the Volterra Award (2001), the Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics (2021) 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."[7][8] In 2014 he received the Grande Médaille of the French Academy of Sciences.[9] His Heineman Prize citation reads: "For seminal contributions to nonequilibrium and equilibrium statistical mechanics, in particular, studies of large deviations in nonequilibrium steady states and rigorous analysis of Gibbs equilibrium ensembles."[10]

Lebowitz is a member of the United States National Academy of Sciences. In 1966, he became a fellow of the American Physical Society.[11] and in 2012, he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society.[12]

He received an honorary Doctor of Science degree at Syracuse University's 158th Commencement in 2012.[13]


  1. ^ "Lebowitz, Joel Louis, 1930-". American Institute of Physics. Retrieved 30 April 2021.
  2. ^ Committee of Concerned Scientists, Leadership List Archived 2008-06-26 at the Wayback Machine. Committee of Concerned Scientists. Accessed June 28, 2008.
  3. ^ Enslin, Rob (November 29, 2018). "A Moral Vision of Science: Physicist Joel L. Lebowitz G'55, G'56, H'12 Believes Science and Morality are Inextricably Linked". SU News. Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2008-06-16. Retrieved 2008-07-31.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  5. ^ The Boltzmann Award 1992
  6. ^ "Laudatio for Joel L. Lebowitz by David Ruelle (IHES, Paris)". Retrieved 29 April 2021.
  7. ^ Rutgers Physics News
  8. ^ Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft, Pressemitteilung, 2006
  9. ^ Grande Médaille of the French Academy of Sciences Archived 2014-10-06 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ APS Heineman Prize Announcement, 2020
  11. ^ List of Fellows of the American Physical Society.
  12. ^ List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 2013-01-27.
  13. ^ "Lebowitz, Moore, Schramm and Sorkin to receive Syracuse University honorary degrees". SU News. April 9, 2012. Retrieved 29 April 2021.

External links[edit]