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Friday, Sept. 19, 2014

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Hopfield awarded Dirac Medal

John Hopfield, who applies techniques of physics and mathematics to the study of the brain, has been awarded the 2001 Dirac Medal.

The medal is awarded annually to "an individual who has made significant contributions to theoretical physics and mathematics," according to the citation from the Abdus Salam International Centre for Theoretical Physics. The center, located in Trieste, Italy, established the award in 1985 in honor of the English physicist Paul Dirac. Medalists receive a $5,000 prize.

Hopfield, a professor in the Princeton's Department of Molecular Biology, is developing a theoretical understanding of how the neural circuits of the brain perform complex calculations. He investigates the way in which nerve cells work together to process sensory perceptions such as the recognition of odors. The Hopfield model of neural processing, which provides insight into the differences between computation in computers and the brain, has become widely referenced in the field.

The prize citation also recognizes significant contributions Hopfield made in the field of condensed matter physics before shifting his focus to biology. In 1969, as a professor in the University's physics department, he received the Buckley Prize for his research into light-emitting diodes.

Contact: Marilyn Marks (609) 258-3601

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