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Physicist, philosopher receive Vilas honors

July 13, 2021 By Chris Barncard

University of Wisconsin–Madison professors Francis Halzen and Steven Nadler have been named Vilas Research Professors.

Photo: Francis Halzen

Francis Halzen

Steven Nadler

Steven Nadler

Created “for the advancement of learning,” Vilas Research Professorships are granted to faculty with proven research ability and unusual qualifications and promise. The recipients of the award have contributed significantly to the research mission of the university, and are recognized both nationally and internationally.

Halzen, the Gregory Breit and Hilldale Professor of Physics, joined the UW­­–Madison faculty in 1972. He has made pioneering contributions to particle physics and neutrino astrophysics, and has played an integral role in the design, implementation, and data acquisition and analysis for the IceCube Neutrino Observatory for the past three decades.

The international IceCube Collaboration discovered highly energetic neutrinos of extragalactic origin, the 2013 Physics World Breakthrough of the Year.

Halzen was awarded a 2014 American Ingenuity Award, a 2015 Balzan Prize, a 2018 Bruno Pontecorvo Prize, a 2019 Yodh Prize, and a 2021 Bruno Rossi Prize.

Nadler, the William H. Hay II Professor of Philosophy and Evjue-Bascom Professor in Humanities, joined the UW–Madison faculty in 1988.

A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Nadler specializes in early modern and Jewish philosophy. He is the author of 13 books, including “Rembrandt’s Jews,” a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction, and a graphic treatment of early modern philosophy, “Heretics! The Wondrous (and Dangerous) Beginnings of Modern Philosophy,” illustrated by his son, Ben Nadler.

Nadler was the founding director of UW–Madison’s Center for the Humanities, and is now director of the Institute for Research in the Humanities.

Vilas awards are supported by the estate of professor, U.S. senator and UW Regent William F. Vilas (1840-1908). The Vilas Research Professorship provides a salary supplement, funding for research expenses and a retirement supplement for faculty who serve at least 15 years as a Vilas Research Professor.