University of Wisconsin-Madison

Francis Halzen wins 2015 Balzan Prize

Francis Halzen, IceCube PI and professor at the UW–Madison. Image: Zig Hampel-Arias, WIPAC.
Francis Halzen, IceCube PI and professor at the UW–Madison. Image: Zig Hampel-Arias, WIPAC.

Francis Halzen, IceCube principal investigator and Hilldale and Gregory Breit Distinguished Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was announced yesterday as one of the prestigious international 2015 Balzan prizewinners.

Luciano Maiani, former director of CERN and professor emeritus of theoretical physics at the Sapienza University of Rome read the citation for the assignment of the Prize for Astroparticle Physics including neutrino and gamma-ray observation to Francis Halzen. Maiani, who is a member of the prize committee, explained that the award recognizes Halzen’s “unparalleled accomplishments that have led to the construction of the large IceCube Neutrino Observatory in the south polar ice, a facility that has opened up a new window into the Universe through the study of cosmological high-energy neutrinos.”

The Balzan Prize establishes four subject areas for each year’s awards, which for this year also included History of European Art, Economic History, and Oceanography. The prize committee decides on the winners from among the nominations entered by the world’s most important universities, research institutes and academies at the Foundation’s request. “Having been nominated by my colleagues and friends around the world means as much to me as the prize, if not more,” said Halzen after learning he was a 2015 Balzan prizewinner.

On November 13, Halzen and the rest of the winners—Hans Belting from Karlsruhe University of Art and Design, Joel Mokyr from Northwestern University at Evanston (Illinois, US) and the University of Tel Aviv (Israel), and David Karl from the University of Hawaii at Manoa—will take center stage at the award ceremony in Bern. Each prize carries an amount of 750,000 Swiss francs ($770,000), half of which must be spent in research, preferably involving young scholars and researchers.

The International Balzan Prize Foundation, which aims to “promote culture, the sciences and the most meritorious initiatives in the cause of humanity, peace and fraternity among peoples throughout the world,” gave its first award in 1961. Since then, every year the Foundation recognizes a few scholars, artists and scientists who have distinguished themselves in their fields at an international level.