Physics Department Receives Quantum Gift from Alum’s Foundation

A $900,000 award from the Julian Schwinger Foundation will support graduate students in the Physics Department studying theoretical and quantum physics.

Ellen Neff
April 25, 2023

Julian Schwinger (CC’36, GSAS’39) has deep Columbia connections: Schwinger received his bachelor’s in physics from the College before going on to complete his PhD under the mentorship of the Nobel Prize-winning Columbia physicist I.I. Rabi. Schwinger shared the 1965 Nobel Prize in Physics with Richard Feynman and Shin'ichirō Tomonaga for his work on quantum electrodynamics, a foundational quantum field theory that describes how light and matter interact: His research still informs work that Columbia’s physics graduate students undertake to this day.

The foundation named in Schwinger’s honor will now honor his legacy at Columbia with a $900,000 gift, which will be matched with an additional $500,000 contribution from Columbia. The gift will endow fellowships for graduate students studying theoretical and quantum physics.

“This is a major quantum gift to Columbia that will enable our students in the Physics Department to carry on Julian Schwinger’s outstanding legacy,” said Dmitri Basov, Chair of the Physics Department and co-task lead of the Columbia Quantum Initiative.

To mark the gift, the Physics Department is planning a biannual lecture series in Schwinger's honor. The first recipient of the fellowship will be announced during the inaugural lecture, which will take place in the fall.