MCB and Physics faculty member David R. Nelson has been named as the 2019 recipient of the Niels Bohr Institute Medal of Honor. The award, established by the Niels Bohr Institute in 2010, recognizes the lifetime contributions of distinguished physicists who foster international collaborations.
“I’m absolutely delighted to receive the Medal of Honor of the Niels Bohr Institute, the birthplace of quantum mechanics, especially because it has previously been awarded to Leo Kadanoff and Gerard t’Hooft, two of my heroes in theoretical physics,” Nelson says.
“This award recognizes work I’ve done over the years in both biology and physics,” he adds. “The physics part includes contributions to superfluids, superconductors, polymers and liquid crystals; the citation mentions explicitly the 1978 prediction with my Harvard physics colleague Bertrand Halperin of a fourth, hexatic phase of matter in two-dimensions…Perhaps the most interesting biological studies associated with this award are investigations (both experimental and theoretical) of spatial population genetics, using genetically labelled microorganisms such as E. coli and S. cerevisiae. The work allows simple, repeatable experimental explorations of genetic drift, selective advantages, and mutations in a spatial context.”
The spatial population genetics project, carried out jointly with Oskar Hallatschek, grew out of a collaboration with the lab of Sharad Ramanathan. Nelson says that another MCB faculty member, Andrew Murray was also invaluable to this research.
Nelson will be presented with the medal at a ceremony in Copenhagen in May 2020.
Congratulations to Professor Nelson!