Biography:David Gross

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Short description: American particle physicist and string theorist

David Gross
David Gross LANL.jpg
Gross in 2007
David Jonathan Gross

(1941-02-19) February 19, 1941 (age 82)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
EducationHebrew University of Jerusalem (BSc, MSc)
University of California, Berkeley (PhD)
Known forAsymptotic freedom
Heterotic string
Gross–Neveu model
Spouse(s)Shulamith Toaff Gross (divorced)
Jacquelyn Savani
AwardsDirac Medal (1988)
Harvey Prize (2000)
Nobel Prize in Physics (2004)
Scientific career
FieldsQuantum field theory, string theory
InstitutionsUniversity of California, Santa Barbara
Harvard University
Princeton University
Doctoral advisorGeoffrey Chew
Doctoral studentsNatan Andrei
Frank Wilczek
Edward Witten
William E. Caswell
Eric D'Hoker
Rajesh Gopakumar
Nikita Nekrasov
Stephen Bernard Libby
David Gross Clean Autograph.svg

David Jonathan Gross (/ɡrs/; born February 19, 1941) is an American theoretical physicist and string theorist. Along with Frank Wilczek and David Politzer, he was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics[1] for their discovery of asymptotic freedom. Gross is the Chancellor's Chair Professor of Theoretical Physics at the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics (KITP) of the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB),[2] and was formerly the KITP director and holder of their Frederick W. Gluck Chair in Theoretical Physics.[3] He is also a faculty member in the UCSB Physics Department[4] and is affiliated with the Institute for Quantum Studies[5] at Chapman University in California. He is a foreign member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.[6]

Early life and education

Gross was born to a Jewish family in Washington, D.C., in February 1941. His parents were Nora (Faine) and Bertram Myron Gross (1912–1997). Gross received his bachelor's degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, in 1962. He received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley in 1966, under the supervision of Geoffrey Chew.


He was a junior fellow at Harvard University (1966–69)[7] and a Eugene Higgins Professor of Physics at Princeton University until 1997, when he began serving as Princeton's Thomas Jones Professor of Mathematical Physics Emeritus.[8] He has received many honors, including a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1987 and the Dirac Medal in 1988.

In 1973, Gross, working with his first graduate student, Frank Wilczek, at Princeton University, discovered asymptotic freedom—the primary feature of non-Abelian gauge theories—which led Gross and Wilczek to the formulation of quantum chromodynamics (QCD), the theory of the strong nuclear force. Asymptotic freedom is a phenomenon where the nuclear force weakens at short distances, which explains why experiments at very high energy can be understood as if nuclear particles are made of non-interacting quarks. Therefore, the closer quarks are to each other, the less the strong interaction (or color charge) is between them; when quarks are in extreme proximity, the nuclear force between them is so weak that they behave almost as free particles. The flip side of asymptotic freedom is that the force between quarks grows stronger as one tries to separate them. This is the reason why the nucleus of an atom can never be broken into its quark constituents.

QCD completed the Standard Model, which details the three basic forces of particle physics—the electromagnetic force, the weak force, and the strong force. Gross was awarded the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics, with Politzer and Wilczek, for this discovery.[1]

Gross, with Jeffrey A. Harvey, Emil Martinec, and Ryan Rohm also formulated the theory of the heterotic string. The four were whimsically nicknamed the "Princeton String Quartet."[9] He continues to do research in this field at the KITP.[10]


In 2003, Gross was one of 22 Nobel Laureates who signed the Humanist Manifesto.[11]

Gross is one of the 20 American recipients of the Nobel Prize in Physics to sign a letter addressed to President George W. Bush in May 2008, urging him to "reverse the damage done to basic science research in the Fiscal Year 2008 Omnibus Appropriations Bill" by requesting additional emergency funding for the Department of Energy's Office of Science, the National Science Foundation, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.[12]

In 2015, Gross signed the Mainau Declaration 2015 on Climate Change on the final day of the 65th Lindau Nobel Laureate Meeting. The declaration was signed by a total of 76 Nobel Laureates and handed to then-President of the French Republic, François Hollande, as part of the successful COP21 climate summit in Paris.[13]


Gross' first wife was Shulamith (Toaff), and they had two children. He also has a stepdaughter by his second wife, Jacquelyn Savani.[14] He has three brothers, including Larry Gross, professor of communication, Samuel R. Gross, professor of law, and Theodore (Teddy) Gross, a playwright.

Honors and awards

Memberships in academies and societies

  • Graduate Research Fellowship, National Science Foundation (1963–66)
  • Fellowship, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (1970–74)[28]
  • Fellow, American Physical Society (elected 1974)[29]
  • Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (elected 1985)[30]
  • Member, National Academy of Sciences (elected 1986)[31]
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science (elected 1987)[32]
  • Honorary Fellow, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (2005)[33]
  • Member, American Philosophical Society (elected 2007)[34]
  • Honorary Fellow, Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, India (elected 2007)[35]
  • Fellow, The World Academy of Sciences for the developing world (elected 2007)[36]
  • Member, International Academy of Philosophy of Science (elected 2009)[37]
  • Foreign Member, Chinese Academy of Sciences (elected 2011)[6]
  • Elected to a four-year term in the presidential line, the American Physical Society (2016-2020)[38]

Selected publications

Journal articles

Technical reports

See also

  • List of Jewish Nobel laureates


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "The Nobel Prize in Physics 2004" (in en-US). 
  2. "UC Santa Barbara, David Gross". 
  3. "In Depth: David Gross | The Kavli Foundation". 
  4. "People | Department of Physics - UC Santa Barbara". 
  5. "Members" (in en). 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Foreign Members---Academic Divisions of the Chinese Academy of Sciences". 
  7. "Harvard University. Department of Physics". 
  8. "David Gross | Department of Physics". 
  9. String Theory, at 20, Explains It All (or Not). NY Times (2004-12-07)
  10. ORCID. "David Gross (0000-0002-1485-7107)" (in en). 
  11. "Humanism and Its Aspirations: Notable Signers" (in en-US). 
  12. "A Letter from America's Physics Nobel Laureates". 
  13. "Mainau Declaration". 
  15. "J. J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Particle Physics" (in en). 
  16. "David Gross" (in en). 
  17. "ICTP - The Medallists". 
  18. "Earlier Lectures - Oskar Klein Centre". 
  19. "Prize Winners – Harvey Prize | פרס הארווי". 
  20. "High Energy Particle Physics Board". 
  21. "La Grande Médaille 2004 de l'Académie des sciences attribuée au Prix Nobel de physique David J. Gross". 2004-10-05. 
  22. "Nobel honours sub-atomic world". BBC News. 5 October 2004. 
  23. "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement. 
  24. "Welcome to The University of Cambodia (UC)". 
  25. "Awards - UMD Physics". 
  26. "NICA First stone laying ceremony" (in en-US). 
  27. "International kudos" (in en). 
  28. "Past Fellows", Sloan Research Fellows: Nobel prize winners (Alfred P. Sloan Foundation) Physics, 1970,, retrieved 2021-07-19 
  29. "APS Fellow Archive". 
  30. "David Jonathan Gross". 14 December 2023. 
  31. "David J. Gross". 
  32. "Elected Fellows | American Association for the Advancement of Science" (in en). 
  33. Gross, David (2005). "Honorary Fellow". 
  34. "APS Member History". 
  35. David, Gross (2007). "New Fellows, Indian Science Academy". 
  36. "Gross, David" (in en). 
  37. "Membres - AIPS-AISR-PIIST" (in fr-fr). 
  38. "2019 APS President David Gross" (in en). 

External links