Michael Fisher

Michael Ellis Fisher (born 3 September 1931) is an English physicist, as well as chemist and mathematician, known for his many seminal contributions to statistical physics, including but not restricted to the theory of phase transitions and critical phenomena.

Michael Fisher
Michael Ellis Fisher

(1931-09-03) 3 September 1931
Fyzabad, Trinidad and Tobago
NationalityUnited Kingdom
Alma materKing's College London
Known forTheory of phase transitions
FKT algorithm
AwardsIrving Langmuir Award (1971)
Wolf Prize (1980)
Boltzmann Medal (1983)
NAS Award for Scientific Reviewing (1983)
Lars Onsager Prize (1995)
Royal Medal (2005)
BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge Award (2009)
Scientific career
FieldsStatistical physics
InstitutionsUniversity of Maryland, College Park
Doctoral advisorCyril Domb
Doctoral students

Academic background

Michael E. Fisher received his BSc from King's College London in 1951, where he also earned a PhD in physics in 1957. He was appointed to the faculty as a lecturer the following year, becoming a full professor in 1965.

In 1966 he moved to Cornell University where he became professor of chemistry, physics, and mathematics, chairing the chemistry department from 1975 to 1978. In 1971, he became a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 1973, he and Jack Kiefer were the first two Cornell faculty elected as Horace White Professors.[1] Fisher was elected Secretary of the Cornell University Senate. In 1983, he was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences, chemistry section. Since 1987 he has been at the Institute for Physical Science and Technology, which is part of the University of Maryland College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences.

Fisher currently lives in Maryland with his wife Sorrel. They have four children. Two of them are also theoretical physicists: Daniel S. Fisher is professor of Applied Physics at Stanford,[2] while Matthew P. A. Fisher is professor of Physics at the University of California, Santa Barbara.[3]

Wolf Prize

Fisher together with Kenneth G. Wilson and Leo Kadanoff won the Wolf Prize in 1980. The prize was awarded with the following comment:[4]"Professor Michael E. Fisher has been an extraordinarily productive scientist, and one still at the height of his powers and creativity. Fisher's major contributions have been in equilibrium statistical mechanics, and have spanned the full range of that subject. He was mainly responsible for bringing together, and teaching a common language to chemists and physicists working on diverse problems of phase transitions."

Boltzmann Medal

In 1983, Fisher was awarded the Boltzmann Medal "for his many illuminating contributions to phase transitions and critical phenomena during the past 25 years"[5]

Lars Onsager Prize

Fisher won the Lars Onsager Prize in 1995 "for his numerous and seminal contributions to statistical mechanics, including but not restricted to the theory of phase transitions and critical phenomena, scaling laws, critical exponents, finite size effects, and the application of the renormalization group to many of the above problems" (official laudatio).

Award and honours


  1. 2 Professors Are Named To Horace White Chairs, Cornell Chronicle, vol. 4, no. 19, 22 February 1973. Page 3. Retrieved 30 May 2011.
  2. "Stanford University Department of Applied Physics". Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  3. KITP at UCSB
  4. Simply-Smart. "קנת ג' ווילסון (Kenneth G. Wilson)". Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  5. "The Boltzmann Award". Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  6. "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter F" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 16 April 2011.
  7. "NAS Award for Scientific Reviewing". National Academy of Sciences. Archived from the original on 18 March 2011. Retrieved 27 February 2011.
  8. "Michael E Fisher". Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  9. BBVA Foundation (15 April 2010). "Richard N. Zare and Michael E. Fisher, 2009 BBVA Foundation Frontiers of Knowledge in Basic Sciences". YouTube. Retrieved 13 September 2016.
  10. Interview with M.E. Fisher by the Spanish Physical Society
  11. "Institute for Physical Science and Technology". Retrieved 13 September 2016.


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