Chen Ning Yang – Biography



Chen Ning Yang was born on September 22, 1922, in Hofei, Anwhei, China, the first of five children of Ke Chuan Yang and Meng Hwa Loh Yang. He is also known as Frank or Franklin.

Yang was brought up in the peaceful and academically inclined atmosphere of the campus of Tsinghua University, just outside of Peiping, China, where his father was a Professor of Mathematics. He received his college education at the National Southwest Associated University in Kunming, China, and completed his B.Sc. degree there in 1942. His M.Sc. degree was received in 1944 from Tsinghua University, which had moved to Kunming during the Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945). He went to the U.S.A. at the end of the war on a Tsinghua University Fellowship, and entered the University of Chicago in January 1946. At Chicago he came under the strong influence of Professor E. Fermi. After receiving his Ph.D. degree in 1948, Yang served for a year at the University of Chicago as an Instructor. He has been associated with the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.A., since 1949, where he became a Professor in 1955.

Yang has worked on various subjects in physics, but has his chief interest in two fields: statistical mechanics and symmetry principles. His B.Sc. thesis: "Group Theory and Molecular Spectra", written under the guidance of Professor Ta-You Wu, his M.Sc. thesis: "Contributions to the Statistical Theory of Order-Disorder Transformations", written under the guidance of Professor J.S. Wang, and his Ph.D. thesis: "On the Angular Distribution in Nuclear Reactions and Coincidence Measurements", written under the guidance of Professor E. Teller, were instrumental in introducing him to these fields.

Dr. Yang is a prolific author, his numerous articles appearing in the Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society, The Physical Review, Reviews of Modern Physics, and the Chinese Journal of Physics.

Professor Yang has been elected Fellow of the American Physical Society and the Academia Sinica, and honoured with the Albert Einstein Commemorative Award (1957). The U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce named him one of the outstanding young men of 1957. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate of the Princeton University, N.J. (1958).

In 1950 Yang married Chih Li Tu and is now the father of three children: Franklin, born 1951; Gilbert, born 1958; and Eulee, born 1961.

Dr. Yang is a quiet, modest, and affable physicist; he met his wife Chih Li Tu while teaching mathematics at her high school in China. He is a hard worker allowing himself very little leisure time.

From Nobel Lectures, Physics 1942-1962. 

Chen Ning Yang



Date of Birth:              September 22, 1922

Place of Birth:            Hefei, Anwhei, China

Citizenship:          United States

Present positions:

Albert Einstein Professor of Physics

State University of New York at Stony Brook, USA

1966 to 1999, Emeritus 1999 -

Distinguished Professor-at-large,

Chinese University of Hong Kong

1986 -


Tsinghua University, Beijing, PRC

1998 -



Nobel Prize - 1957

Rumford Premium - 1980

National Medal of Science - 1986

Benjamin Franklin Medal - 1993

Bower Award - 1994

N. Bogoliubov Prize - 1996

Lars Onsager Prize - 1999

King Faisal International Prize - 2001


Honorary Degrees:

Princeton University - 1958

Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute - 1965

University of Wroclaw, Poland - 1974

Gustavus Adolphus College, Minnesota - 1975

University of Maryland - 1979

University of Durham, England - 1979

Fudan University, China - 1984

Eidg. Technische Hochschule (ETH, Switzerland - 1987)

Moscow State University - 1992

Drexel University - 1995

Tsing Hua University, Taiwan - 1996

Chiao Tung University, Taiwan - 1996

Chinese University, Hong Kong - 1997

University of Michigan - 1998

State University of New York, Stony Brook - 1999

Washington College - 1999

Baptist University, Hong Kong - 1999

Chung-Cheng University, Taiwan - 2000


Membership/Foreign Membership in:

U. S. Academy of Sciences

Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing

Russian Academy of Sciences

Royal Society (London)

American Philosophical Society

Academia Sinica, Taiwan

Brazilian Academy of Sciences

Venezuelan Academy of Sciences

Polish Academy of Sciences

Royal Spanish Academy of Science

Korean Academy of Science and Technology

Pontifical Academy of Sciences


Chairman of:

Panel of Theoretical Physics, Physics Survey Committee, National

Academy of Sciences - 1965

Div. of Particles and Fields of the International Union of Pure

and Applied Physics - 1972-76

Div. of Particles and Fields of the American Physical Society - 1970-71

Fachbeirat of the Max Planck Institute of Physics, Munich - 1980-83


President of:

National Association of Chinese Americans (NACA) - 1977-1980

Association of Asia Pacific Physical Societies - 1989-1994

Asia Pacific Center of Theoretical Physics (APCTP) - 1996-


Member of:

Governing Council of the Courant Inst. of Mathematical Science - 1963-

Science Advisory Committee of IBM - 1966-1971

High Energy Physics Advisory Panel (HEPAP) - 1968-1970

Board of Trustees of Rockefeller University - 1970-1976

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution - 1962-1978

Board of Trustees of Ben Gurion University - 1981-

Board of Directors of the AAAS - 1975-1979

Board of Trustees of the Salk Institute - 1978-1989

Board of Directors of the Neuroscience Institute - 1983-1988

Board of Directors of the Scientific American Inc. - 1983-1990

Council of Scholars The Library of Congress - 1990-

Board of Trustees, Stony Brook Foundation - 1981-1999

Board of Trustees, Brookhaven Science Associates - 1998-1999



Gibbs Lecturer, American Mathematical Society

Loeb Lecturer, Harvard University (1957, 1972 and 1997)

Vanuxem Lecturer, Princeton University

Lincoln Lecturer, Bd. of Foreign Scholars (Fulbright Bd.) of the State Dept.

Pauli Lecturer, ETH, Zurich

Courant Lecturer, New York University

Fermi Lecturer, Scuola Normale Superiore, Pisa

Oppenheimer Memorial Lecturer, Los Alamos

Lorentz Professor, Leiden

Klein Memorial Lectures, Stockholm

Ta-You Wu Lecturer, University of Michigan

Goudsmit Lecturer, University of Michigan

Wu-Zhi Yang Lecturer, Fudan University, Shanghai

Primakoff Lecturer, APS

Oppenheimer Lecture, Berkeley


Revised 12/15/00

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