April 13, 2000
Vol. 19 No. 14

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    National Medal of Science winner Kadanoff to deliver this year’s Ryerson Lecture

    By Steve Koppes
    News Office

    Leo Kadanoff, who recently received a 1999 National Medal of Science from President Clinton at the White House, will deliver the 26th Nora and Edward Ryerson Lecture at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, April 27, in the Max Palevsky Cinema at Ida Noyes Hall.

    Kadanoff,[leo kadanoff] by jason smith the John D. MacArthur Distinguished Service Professor in Physics and Mathematics, will give a presentation titled “Breaking a Neck, Making a Splash: The Development of Natural Complexity.” Kadanoff––who received the National Medal of Science for his research contributions that have led to applications in engineering, urban planning, computer science, hydrodynamics, biology, applied mathematics and geophysics––will describe his interest in how complexity arises from simple phenomena, such as avalanches forming from the forces that are transmitted from grain to grain in sand.

    A graduate of Harvard University, he received all of his academic degrees there, completing his Ph.D. in 1960.

    In the 1960s, while serving on the faculty of the University of Illinois, Kadanoff made innovative and original contributions to the understanding of phase changes, such as the change of water from liquid to ice. This work led to his receiving the Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society in 1977, the Wolf Foundation Prize in 1980 and the Boltzmann Medal of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics in 1989.

    As a Brown University faculty member in the mid-1970s, Kadanoff and his colleagues extended and applied the phase-transition work and developed a research program in computer simulations of urban dynamics.

    Kadanoff joined the Chicago faculty in 1978. Working with students, junior scientists and colleagues, he helped construct a new field of knowledge called soft condensed-matter physics, which deals with such phenomena as the flow of fluids and the behavior of granular materials. He also designed a new undergraduate course about chaos theory.

    He received the University’s Quantrell Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 1990 and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society.

    His other honors include the Centennial Medal of Harvard University, the Onsager Prize of the American Physical Society and the Grande Medaille d’Or of the Academy des Sciences de l’Institut de France.

    The University Board of Trustees established the Ryerson Lecture in 1972 to give distinguished members of the faculty an opportunity to speak to the University community about their life and work.

    A presidentially appointed faculty committee nominates the Ryerson Lecturer.