Academic genealogy of theoretical physicists

The following is an academic genealogy of theoretical physicists and is constructed by following the pedigree of thesis advisors. If an advisor did not exist, or if the field of physics is unrelated, an academic genealogical link can be constructed by using the university from which the theoretical physicist graduated.

An academic genealogy tree lists the physicists' PhD[lower-alpha 1] (or in some cases BA/MA)[lower-alpha 2] date and school, if known. Nobel Prize winners are indicated by . If physicists are advised by mathematicians, their genealogy can be readily traced using the Mathematics Genealogy Project.

For the meaning of "s.v.", see here.

Founding fathers of modern physics

Niels Bohr

Max Born

Albert Einstein

Enrico Fermi

Ralph H. Fowler

Friedrich Hasenöhrl

Hermann von Helmholtz

Lev Landau

Max Planck

Abdus Salam

Arnold Sommerfeld

Léon Van Hove

Eugene Wigner

Hideki Yukawa

  • Hideki Yukawa (Kyoto, 1938 under Kajuro Tamaki)
    • Donald R. Yennie
      • Stanley J. Brodsky (Minnesota, 1964)
        • Peter Lepage (Stanford, 1978)
        • Jonathan Sapirstein (Stanford, 1979)
      • Thomas W. Appelquist (Cornell, 1968)
        • J. Terrance Goldman (Harvard, 1973)
        • Michael Dine (Yale, 1978)
        • Anthony Carmine Longhitano (Yale, 1981)
        • Dimitra Karabali (Yale, 1986)
        • Piotr Karasinski (Yale, 1987)
        • Daniel Joseph Nash (Yale, 1989)
        • Tatsu Takeuchi (Yale, 1989)
        • Opher Shapira (Yale, 1990)
        • George Triantaphyllou (Yale, 1993)
        • Myckola Schwetz (Yale, 1997)
        • Zhiyong Duan (Yale, 2001)
        • Ho-Ung Yee (Yale, 2003)
        • Yang Bai (Yale, 2007)
      • Geoffey T. Bodwin (Cornell, 1978)
    • Masako Bando (Kyoto, 1966)

Classical lineages

The Max Planck, the Albert Einstein, the Lev Landau, and the Eugene Wigner academic genealogies ultimately lead to the Renaissance humanist Niccolò Leoniceno.

The Arnold Sommerfeld genealogy leads to Felix Klein and then to Otto Mencke via Gauss and Gottfried Leibniz. The Leibniz heritage, however, is due to the premature death of Klein's advisor, Julius Plücker, which forced a second supervisor for the final examination, namely Rudolf Lipschitz.

The Enrico Fermi and the Friedrich Hasenöhrl academic genealogies lead to Jurij Vega.

The Max Born academic genealogy leads to Carl Friedrich Gauss and then on to Otto Mencke and ultimately to Friedrich Leibniz, Gottfried Leibniz's father. The Léon Van Hove lineage stems from the Gottfried Leibniz one as well.

Another advisor line in continental Europe descends from Gottfried Leibniz via—among others—Poisson, Lagrange, the Bernoullis, and Euler. The Gottfried Leibniz lineage ultimately proceeds from the Heinrich von Langenstein one (the Heinrich von Langenstein lineage also includes Nicolaus Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, and Johannes Kepler).

The lineage of the two main American branches (the Henry Augustus Rowland branch and the Arthur Gordon Webster branch—see s.v.) proceeds via Hermann von Helmholtz from Gerard van Swieten—and his mentor Herman Boerhaave—and ultimately from Jacques Dubois and Jacques Lefèvre d'Étaples. The Ralph H. Fowler lineage also stems from the same line.

Isaac Barrow was influenced by the work of Vincenzo Viviani, an assistant of Galileo Galilei.

Continental physics

Erhard Weigel

Otto Mencke

British physics

Isaac Barrow

Viennese physics

Jurij Vega

See also


  1. In most of Europe, all fields (history, philosophy, social sciences, mathematics and natural philosophy/natural sciences) other than theology, law, and medicine (the so-called professional, vocational, or technical curriculum) were traditionally known as philosophy (see Sooyoung Chang, Academic Genealogy of Mathematicians, World Scientific, 2010, p. 183).
  2. Note that there were no PhDs in Germany before the 1650s (when they gradually started substituting the MA as the highest academic degree; arguably one of the earliest German PhD holders is Erhard Weigel, 1652—see his academic lineage tree), in France before 1808 (when they gradually started substituting diplomas as the highest academic degree), in Russia before 1819 (when the Doktor Nauk degree, roughly equivalent to the PhD, gradually started substituting the specialist diploma, roughly equivalent to the MA, as the highest academic degree) and in 1917–1934, in the U.S. before 1861 (when they gradually started substituting MAs as the highest academic degree), in the UK before 1917 (when they gradually started substituting the MA as the highest academic degree), and in Italy before 1927 (when they gradually started substituting the Laurea as the highest academic degree); see Doctor of Philosophy: History and Doktor Nauk: History for further information.
  3. Straus began his early work on relativity with Einstein, but then continued his career with work in pure mathematics. Thus, his advisees were specialized in fields unrelated to theoretical physics.


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