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Columbia UniversityThe President's Report 2002-2007
Nobel Prize Winners
Columbia’s faculty includes several Nobel Prize winners. For information about other Columbians who have won the award, including 2008 winner Martin Chalfie, visit About Columbia.


Orhan Pamuk, Literature, 2006
Orhan Pamuk, the internationally acclaimed Turkish novelist and memoirist, is a fellow with Columbia University’s Committee on Global Thought and holds an appointment in Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures and at the School of the Arts. In the words of the Swedish Academy, “In the quest for the melancholic soul of his native city, [Pamuk] has discovered new symbols for the clash and interlacing of cultures.” Since first being published in 1972, his work has been translated into more than forty languages, and he has received numerous prestigious international prizes. A native of Istanbul, Pamuk was also a visiting scholar at Columbia from 1985 to 1988.

Edmund S. Phelps, Economics, 2006
Edmund S. Phelps, the McVickar Professor of Political Economy and director of the Center on Capitalism and Society at the Earth Institute, joined the economics department at Columbia in 1971 after several years at the University of Pennsylvania and Yale University. Phelps was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences in 1981 at age 47. He is also a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the Econometric Society. Phelps won the Nobel Prize for his analysis of intertemporal tradeoffs in macroeconomic policy. The Academy noted that Phelps’s work has deepened understanding of the relationship between short-run and long-run effects of economic policy. His contributions have had a decisive impact on economic research as well as policy. Phelps showed how the possibilities of stabilization policy in the future depend on today’s policy decisions: low inflation today leads to expectations of low inflation also in the future, thereby facilitating future policy making.

Richard Axel, Medicine, 2004
Richard Axel, University Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics and professor of pathology, is a graduate of Columbia College and has spent his entire professional career at Columbia. He shared the prize with his colleague Linda Buck, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center of Washington, who was a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia when she and Axel published their findings in 1991. Axel is also an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Axel and Buck received the Nobel Prize for mapping the genes that govern the sense of smell and for determining how the brain processes olfactory information into perception and memory. This achievement ranks among the greatest discoveries in brain science in the last fifty years.


Joseph Stiglitz, Economics, 2001
Joseph Stiglitz, University Professor of Economics and former chief economist at the World Bank, has appointments at the School of International and Public Affairs (SIPA), the economics department of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Graduate School of Business. He is chair of Columbia’s Committee on Global Thought and co-founder and executive director of the Initiative for Policy Dialogue at Columbia. Stiglitz won the award with George Akerlof of the University of California, Berkeley, and A. Michael Spence of Stanford University. In presenting the prize, the Academy explained that the trio had been honored “for their analysis of problems that may arise in markets where information is asymmetric, that is, where sellers know something buyers don’t, or vice versa… [Their work] has changed the way economists think about their markets.”

Eric R. Kandel, Medicine, 2000
Eric R. Kandel, University Professor of Physiology and Cell Biophysics, Psychiatry, Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, shared the 2000 Nobel Prize for Medicine with Arvid Carlsson of the University of Goteborg, Sweden, and Paul Greengard of Rockefeller University, New York, for their contributions to the field of neuroscience. Kandel, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute senior investigator, is a member of both the National Academy of Science and American Philosophical Society and a winner of the National Medal of Science. His seminal work with the sea slug Aplysia, a creature with relatively few nerve cells and clearly delineated behavioral circuitry compared with vertebrates, demonstrated fundamental ways in which nerve cells alter their responsiveness to chemical signals to produce a coordinated change in behavior. The work has been essential not only for our understanding of the basic processes of learning and memory, but also for highlighting many of the cellular processes that are targets of psychoactive drugs.

Robert Mundell, Economics, 1999
A professor at Columbia since 1974, Robert Mundell has been an adviser to a number of international agencies and organizations including the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Government of Canada, several governments in Latin America and Europe, the Federal Reserve Board and the U.S. Treasury. He is known as the father of the theory of optimum currency areas and formulated what became a standard international macroeconomics model. In announcing his award, the Nobel committee noted that his “research has had such a far-reaching and lasting impact because it combines formal—but still accessible—analysis, intuitive interpretation and results with immediate policy applications. Above all, Mundell chose his problems with uncommon—almost prophetic—accuracy in terms of predicting the future development of international monetary arrangements and capital markets.”

Horst Stormer, Physics, 1998
Horst Stormer, professor of physics and applied physics, shared the 1998 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of bizarre motions of electrons in thin layers of semiconductors. Stormer was honored with Daniel Tsui, a professor at Princeton University, for discovering a phenomenon known as the fractional quantum Hall effect, and with Robert B. Laughlin, a professor at Stanford University, for restating the theoretical explanation of this achievement as a simple equation. The Swedish Academy cited the trio “for their discovery of a new form of quantum fluid with fractionally charged excitations.”

Tsung-Dao Lee, Physics, 1957
Tsung-Dao Lee, University Professor of Physics, joined Columbia as an assistant professor in 1953. In 1956, at age 29, he was promoted to professor, becoming the youngest-ever full professor in the University’s faculty history at that time. In 1957, when awarded the Nobel Prize at 31 years of age, Lee became the second youngest scientist ever to receive this distinction. Lee won the award with Chen Ning Yang of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, for refuting the law of parity. The Swedish Academy noted that “through [their] consistent and unprejudiced thinking [they] have been able to break a most puzzling deadlock in the field of elementary particle physics where now experimental and theoretical work is pouring forth as the result of [their] brilliant achievement.”

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