honorary doctorate award Expert in the Field of Theoretical Physics: Honorary Doctorate for Sally Dawson

Press Release No 96/2022
11 October 2022

Combined Faculty of Mathematics, Engineering and Natural Sciences honours researcher from the USA as an outstanding representative of her discipline

In recognition of her outstanding scientific achievements in the field of Theoretical Physics, Dr Sally Dawson is to be awarded the honorary doctorate of the Combined Faculty of Mathematics, Engineering and Natural Sciences of Heidelberg University. The Faculty is paying tribute to her prowess, above all in the area of Higgs boson physics. Dr Dawson, a researcher at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, has had close connections for many years with the elementary particle research community in Germany, particularly in Heidelberg. The Rector of Ruperto Carola will present the honorary doctorate at an award ceremony on 13 October 2022.

Portrait Dr. Sally Dawson

“Sally Dawson is one of the most influential experts in Theoretical Physics worldwide,” says Heidelberg particle physicist Prof. Dr Tilman Plehn. For many years she supplied theoretical foundations for discovering the Higgs particle − which was at first only theoretically assumed to exist − in order to then define the programme for precision measurements of quantum effects in Higgs boson physics. Dr Dawson will receive the academic honour on the proposal of the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy. According to the Faculty, she is an outstanding representative of her discipline and has had an immense influence on the work of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), the particle accelerator at the European Research Centre CERN in Geneva (Switzerland). “Sally Dawson has shaped the LHC scientific programme in a unique way, not only up until the Higgs discovery but also, and primarily, since then,” Prof. Plehn underlines.

Sally Dawson studied physics and mathematics at Duke University and at Harvard University, where she also earned her PhD in 1981. After that, she had post-doctoral positions at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, both major research institutes for elementary particle physics in the United States. Since 1986 she has worked at the Brookhaven National Laboratory, including as chair of its Physics Department. Since 2001, Dr Dawson has also been adjunct professor at the Yang Institute for Theoretical Physics at Stony Brook University, which is part of the State University of New York. The co-author of “The Higgs Hunter’s Guide” has received multiple honours for her scientific work.

Prof. Dr Bernhard Eitel, Rector of Heidelberg University, will open the honorary doctorate award ceremony. The laudatory address to the recipient will be given by Prof. Dr Jürgen Berges from the Institute for Theoretical Physics, who is Dean of the Faculty of Physics and Astronomy. Dr Dawson will then deliver the “Hans Jensen Lecture” on the topic “Why Study Particle Physics? Tackling the Big Questions”. The lecture series commemorates Hans Jensen, a Heidelberg researcher in the field of Theoretical Physics who received the Nobel Prize in 1963.

Note to newsrooms:

The honorary doctorate award ceremony followed by the “Hans Jensen Lecture” is open to members of the university. It will take place on 13 October 2022 in the Great Hall of the Old University, beginning at 6pm. Representatives of the media are warmly invited to attend and report. Please register by phone on +49 6221 / 54-2311 or by email to presse@rektorat.uni-heidelberg.de