JRO Memorial Lecturer Dr. J. Michael Kosterlitz On ‘A Random Walk Through Physics To The Nobel Prize’

Dr. J. Michael Kosterlitz holds the medallion he received from the Oppenheimer Committee. Photo by Chris Hazard
This year’s J. Robert Oppenheimer Memorial Lecturer was Dr. J. Michael Kosterlitz, Harrison E. Farnsworth Professor of Physics at Brown University and a 2016 Nobel Laureate in Physics. The lecture was held Monday, Oct. 28 at Crossroads Bible Church.
The title of Dr. Kosterlitz’s lecture was “A Random Walk Through Physics to the Nobel Prize.” Dr. Alison Pugmire, Chair of the Oppenheimer Committee, opened the event and presented Dr. Kosterlitz with a bronze medallion featuring a relief bust of J. Robert Oppenheimer with Dr. Kosterlitz ‘s name and the date of the lecture inscribed. Then Dr. Avadh Saxena gave the introduction to Dr. Kosterlitz.
Dr. Kosterlitz spoke about his life’s journey through his early education in Scotland to the various universities where he did his undergraduate and graduate work. He also discussed his other life as a mountaineer and briefly discussed his scientific work. Of particular interest to several high school students in attendance was his frank discussion of his discovery of his strengths and how he worked with his weaknesses.
Dr. Kosterlitz does research in condensed matter theory, one- and two-dimensional physics, in phase transitions: random systems, electron localization and spin glasses; in critical dynamics: melting and freezing.
For his work on the Kosterlitz-Thouless transition, Dr. Kosterlitz has been awarded the Maxwell Medal from the British Institute of Physics and the Lars Onsager Prize from the American Physical Society. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2016, shared with David Thouless and Duncan Haldane, for his work on the Kosterlitz-Thouless transition. In 2017, he was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences.