Curriculum Vitae

Chancellor Emeritus Robert J. Birgeneau - Curriculum Vitae

Arnold & Barbara Silverman Professor of Physics, Materials Science & Engineering, and Public Policy
University of California, Berkeley


B.Sc. 1963 University of Toronto
Ph.D. 1966 Yale University

Professor Birgeneau received his B.Sc. in Mathematics from the University of Toronto in 1963 and Ph.D. in Physics from Yale University in 1966 with Professor Werner Wolf. He was on the faculty of Yale for one year and then spent one year at Oxford University. He was at Bell Laboratories from 1968 to 1975 and then went to MIT in September 1975 as Professor of Physics. In 1988 he became head of the department and in 1991 became Dean of Science at MIT. On July 1, 2000, Professor Birgeneau became President of the University of Toronto until September 2004, when he was appointed the Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley. On June 1, 2013 he stepped down as Chancellor and transitioned back to the faculty. 

Birgeneau holds faculty appointments in the Departments of Physics, Materials Science and Engineering, and Public Policy. Professor Birgeneau's research is primarily concerned with the phases and phase transition behavior of novel states of matter. These include one and two dimensional quantum magnets, liquid crystals, physisorbed and chemisorbed surface monolayers, graphite and transition metal dichalcogenide intercalates, highly disordered magnets, lamellar CuO2 superconductors and the Fe-based superconducting materials. He uses primarily neutron and x-ray scattering techniques to probe these systems.

An internationally distinguished physicist, Prof. Birgeneau is a leader in higher education and is well known for his commitment to equity and inclusion in the academic community.  During his service as Chancellor, Birgeneau strengthened UC Berkeley’s standing as one of the top few universities, public or private, in the world.  Under his leadership Berkeley became the first university in the United States to offer comprehensive financial aid to undocumented students and the first public university to provide significant financial aid to middle class students.

Prof. Birgeneau is a fellow of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of London, the American Philosophical Society and other scholarly societies. He has received many awards for his teaching and for his research on the fundamental properties of materials.

His awards include a special Founders Award from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the 2008 Carnegie Corporation Academic Leadership Award as a “Champion of Excellence and Equity in Education,” and the 2009 Shinnyo-en Foundation’s 2009 Pathfinders to Peace Prize for his contributions to bringing about a more peaceful world.  In 2012 Birgeneau received the Compton Medal from the American Institute of Physics.  In 2016 he received the Vannevar Bush Award from the National Science Board, honoring “truly exceptional lifelong leaders in science and technology who have made substantial contributions to the welfare of the Nation through public service activities in science, technology, and public policy.”  He also has received honorary doctorates from a number of universities.

At Berkeley, Birgeneau holds the Arnold and Barbara Silverman Distinguished Chair in the Departments of Physics, Materials Science and Engineering and Public Policy.  He and his wife, Mary Catherine, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren.

Professional Society, Committee Memberships, etc.

  • N.A.S. Panel on Neutron Scattering, Steering Committee, 1977
  • Co-Chairman, 1979 Gordon Conference on Quantum Solids and Fluids
  • Policy and Advisory Board, Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source, 1980-1984
  • Associate Editor for Condensed Matter Physics, Physical Review Letters, 1980-1983
  • Oliver E. Buckley Prize Committee, APS, 1981, 1990-1991
  • External Advisory Committee, Physics Division, Los Alamos National Laboratory, 1982-1986
  • N.A.S. Major Materials Facility Committee, Executive Committee, 1984
  • Program Advisory Committee, HFBR, Brookhaven, 1984-1987
  • Co-Chairman, 1986 Gordon Conference on Condensed Matter Physics
  • Materials Physics Topical Group, Executive Committee, 1986-1988
  • Editorial Board, Physical Review B, 1987-1989
  • NSF Materials Research Advisory Committee, 1989-1990
  • Membership Committee, American Academy of Arts & Sciences, 1989-1992
  • Board of Trustees, Associated Universities, Inc., 1990-1997
  • DOE Basic Energy Science Advisory Committee, 1991-1994
  • Board of Trustees, Boston Museum of Science, 1992-2001
  • Board of Governors, Argonne National Laboratory, 1992-2001
  • Advisory Council, NEC Research Institute, 1995-2000
  • Sloan Foundation, Physics Fellow Selection Committee, 1995-2001
  • Chair BESAC Panel on Research Reactors, 1996
  • Chair BESAC Panel on Synchrotron Radiation Sources & Science, 1997
  • Board of Trustees, Brookhaven Science Associates, 1997-2000
  • Science Policy Committee, LBNL, Advanced Light Source, 1997-2000
  • Oxford University, Physics Department, Member, External Advisory Committee, 2000
  • Co-Chair, Polaroid Science and Technology Board, 1998-2004
  • Board of Trustees, University Health Network, 2000-2004
  • Board of Directors, St. Michael's Hospital, 2000-2004
  • Board of Trustees, Royal Ontario Museum, 2000-2004
  • United Way of Greater Toronto Campaign Cabinet, 2000-2002
  • Chair, Columbia University Science Planning Review Committee, 2001
  • Board of Trustees, URA, 2000-2004
  • Chair, Visiting Committee, ETH Domain, Switzerland, 2002-2004
  • DOE Task Force on the Future of Science Programs, 2003
  • Helmholtz Review Committee, Germany, Chair 2004
  • Independent Citizens Oversight Committee (Stem Cells) 2005-2013
  • Cabot Microelectronics Corporation Board of Directors 2005
  • Chair, Council of Presidents, Universities Research Association, Inc., 2009
  • Member, American Academy of Arts and Sciences Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, 2011-2015
  • Member, NAS Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine, 2013-
  • Co-Chair, American Academy of Arts and Sciences Lincoln Project, 2013-2016
  • University-Foundation Liaison, Science Philanthropy Alliance, 2013-2019 
  • Chair, DOE-BESAC subcommittee on the 2020-2050 U.S. strategy for Nuclear Research Reactors

Awards, Honors

  • Yale Science and Engineering Alumni Achievement Award, 1981
  • Wilbur Lucius Cross Medal, Yale University, June 1986
  • Morris Loeb Lecturer, Harvard University, 1986
  • Oliver E. Buckley Prize for Condensed Matter Physics, APS, 1987
  • Bertram Eugene Warren Award, ACA, 1988
  • Richtmyer Lecturer, AAPT, 1989
  • E.W. Guptill Lecturer, Dalhousie University, 1990
  • H.L. Welsh Lecturer, University of Toronto, 1994
  • Emilio Segrè Distinguished Lecturer in Physics, Tel Aviv University, 1995
  • IUPAP Magnetism Award, 1997
  • APS Centennial Speaker, 1998-1999
  • A.W. Scott Lecturer, Cambridge University, 2000
  • J.E. Lilienfeld Award, APS, 2000
  • Tercentennial Lecturer, Yale University, 2001
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, TCDSB, 2004
  • Fellow, American Physical Society
  • Fellow, American Association for the Advancement of Science
  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1987
  • Fellow, Royal Society of London, 2001
  • Fellow, Institute of Physics, 2001
  • Fellow, Royal Society of Canada, 2002
  • Fellow, National Academy of Sciences, 2004
  • Fellow, American Philosophical Society, 2006
  • Fellow, Neutron Scattering Society of America, 2008
  • Founders Award, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2006
  • "First in Family Award," Bay Area Youth Fund, 2006
  • National Forum of Black Public Administrators' Achiever in Public Service Award, 2006
  • Honorary Doctorate, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, 2007
  • Lux Award, Level Playing Field Institute, San Francisco, CA 2007
  • Honorary Doctorate in Engineering, Colorado School of Mines, Golden, Colorado, 2007
  • Carnegie Corporation, 2008 Academic Leadership Award
  • Honorary Doctorate of Science, University of Waterloo, Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, 2009
  • Shinnyo-en Foundation’s 2009 Pathfinders to Peace Prize
  • Cal Spirit Recognition Award 2009 with Mary Catherine Birgeneau
  • Founder's Award, K to College, Berkeley, California, 2012
  • Clifford G. Shull Prize of the Neutron Scattering Society of America, 2012
  • The Karl Taylor Compton Medal for Leadership in Physics of the American Institute of Physics, 2012
  • Chief Executive Leadership Award from District VII of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), 2013
  • Centro Legal de la Raza's Visionary Leadership Award, 2013
  • Honorary Doctorate of Science, University of Toronto, Toronto, Canada, 2013
  • Rising Immigrant Scholars Through Education 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Segrè Lecture, UC Berkeley, 2014
  • Amundsen Lecture, University of Minnesota, 2015
  • Honorary Doctor of Laws, University of Western Ontario, 2015
  • Anderson Distinguished Service Award, IGS, UC Berkeley, 2015
  • Vannevar Bush Award, National Science Board, 2016


1963 - 1966

Graduate Student, Yale University, Department of Physics,
Werner P. Wolf, Supervisor


Visiting Lecturer, Benedict College
Columbia, South Carolina

1966 - 1967

Instructor, Yale University
Department of Engineering and Applied Science

1967 - 1968

National Research Council of Canada, Rutherford Memorial
Postdoctoral Fellow, Oxford University

1968 - 1974

Member of Technical Staff, Physical Research
Laboratory, Bell Laboratories,
Murray Hill, New Jersey


Research Head, Scattering and Low Energy
Physics Department, Bell Laboratories,
Murray Hill, New Jersey

1968 - present

Guest Senior Physicist, Brookhaven National
Laboratory, Upton, New York

1971, 1979

Visiting Scientist, Riso/ National Laboratory,
Roskilde, Denmark

1975 - 2000

Professor of Physics, MIT,
Cambridge, Massachusetts

1977 - 1980

Consultant, Bell Laboratories,
Murray Hill, New Jersey

1980 - 1983

Consultant, IBM Research Laboratories,
Yorktown Heights, New York

1982 - 2000

Cecil and Ida Green Professor of Physics, MIT

1983 - 1986

Associate Director, Research Laboratory of
Electronics, MIT

1985 - 1990

Consultant, Sandia National Laboratories,
Albuquerque, New Mexico

1987 - 1988

Head, Solid State, Atomic and Plasma Physics, MIT

1988 - 1991

Head, Department of Physics, MIT

1991 - 2000

Dean, School of Science, MIT

2000 - 2004

President and Professor of Physics, University of Toronto

September 2004 - May 2013

Chancellor and Professor of Physics and Materials Science and Engineering, University of California, Berkeley

June 2013 - present

Arnold and Barbara Silverman Distinguished Professor of Physics, Materials Science and Engineering, and Public Policy

Highly Cited Publications

1. Normal Modes of Vibration in Nickel, Phys. Rev. 136, A1359, (1964), R.J. Birgeneau, J. Cordes, G. Dolling and A.D.B. Woods.

2. Neutron Scattering Investigation of Phase Transitions and Magnetic Correlations in the Two-Dimensional Antiferromagnets K2NiF4, Rb2MnF4, Rb2FeF4, Phys. Rev. B 1, 2211, (1970), R.J. Birgeneau, H.J. Guggenheim and G. Shirane.

3. Spin Dynamics in the One-Dimensional Antiferromagnet (CD3)4NMnCl3, Phys. Rev. B 5, 1999, (1972), M.T. Hutchings, G. Shirane, R.J. Birgeneau and S.L. Holt.

4. Crystal Fields and the Effective Point Charge Model in the Rare Earth Pnictides, Phys. Rev. B 8, 5345, (1973), E. Bucher, J.P. Maita, L. Passell and K.C. Turberfield; extended abstract in Proceedings of International Conf. on Magnetism, Moscow, 1973, Vol. 5, p. 5.

5. Observation of Algebraic Decay of Positional Order in a Smectic Liquid Crystal, Phys. Rev. B 22, 312, (1980), J. Als-Nielsen, J.D. Litster, R.J. Birgeneau, M. Kaplan, C.R. Safinya, A. Lindegaard-Andersen and S. Mathiesen.

6. Two-Dimensional Antiferromagnetic Quantum Spin-Fluid State in La2CuO4, Phys. Rev. Lett. 59, 1613, (1987), G. Shirane, Y. Endoh, R.J. Birgeneau, M.A. Kastner, Y. Hidaka, M. Oda, M. Suzuki and T. Murakami.

7. Soft-Phonon Behavior and Transport in Single-Crystal La2CuO4, Phys. Rev. Lett. 59, 1329, (1987) R.J. Birgeneau, C.Y. Chen, D.R. Gabbe, H.P. Jenssen, M.A. Kastner, C.J. Peters, P.J. Picone, T. Thio, T.R. Thurston, H.L. Tuller, J.D. Axe, P. Böni and G. Shirane.

8. Magnetic Phase Diagram and Magnetic Pairing in Doped La2CuO4, Phys. Rev. Lett. 60, 1330, (1988), A. Aharony, R.J. Birgeneau, A. Coniglio, M.A. Kastner and H.E. Stanley.

9. Static and Dynamic Spin Correlations in Pure and Doped La2CuO4, Phys. Rev. B 37, 7443, (1988), Y. Endoh, K. Yamada, R.J. Birgeneau, D.R. Gabbe, H.P. Jenssen, M.A. Kastner, C.J. Peters, P.J. Picone, T.R Thurston, J.M. Tranquada, G. Shirane, Y. Hidaka, M. Oda, Y. Enomoto, M. Suzuki and T. Murakami.

10. Antisymmetric Exchange and Its Influence on Magnetic Structure and Conductivity of La2CuO4, Phys. Rev. B 38, 905, (1988), T. Thio, T.R. Thurston, N.W. Preyer, P.J. Picone, M.A. Kastner, H.P. Jenssen, D.R. Gabbe, C.Y. Chen, R.J. Birgeneau and A. Aharony.

11. Antiferromagnetic Spin Correlations in Insulating, Metallic and Superconducting La2-xSrxCuO4, Phys. Rev. B 38, 6614, (1988), R.J. Birgeneau, D.R. Gabbe, H.P. Jenssen, M.A. Kastner, P.J. Picone, T.R. Thurston, G. Shirane, Y. Endoh, M. Sato, K. Yamada, Y. Hidaka, M. Oda, Y. Enomoto, M. Suzuki and T. Murakami.

12. Temperature Dependence of the Magnetic Excitations in La1.85Sr0.15CuO4 (Tc = 33 K), Phys. Rev. Lett. 63, 330, (1989), G. Shirane, R.J. Birgeneau, Y. Endoh, P. Gehring, M.A. Kastner, K. Kitazawa, H. Kojima, I. Tanaka, T.R. Thurston and K. Yamada.

13. Magnetic Excitations in Pure, Lightly Doped and Weakly Metallic La2CuO4, Phys. Rev. B 46, 14034, (1992), B. Keimer, N. Belk, R.J. Birgeneau, A. Cassanho, C.Y. Chen, M. Greven, M.A. Kastner, A. Aharony, Y. Endoh, R.W. Erwin and G. Shirane.

14. E Versus K Relations and Many Body Effects in the Model Insulating Copper Oxide Sr2CuO2Cl2, Phys. Rev. Lett., 74, 964, (1995), B.O. Wells, Z.X. Shen, A. Matsuura, D.M. King, M.A. Kastner, M. Greven and R.J. Birgeneau.

15. Doping Dependence of the Spatially Modulated Dynamical Spin Correlations and the Superconducting Transition Temperature in La2-xSrxCuO4, Phys. Rev. B, 57, 6165, (1998), K. Yamada, C.H. Lee, K. Kurahashi, J. Wada, S. Wakimoto, Y. Kimura, S. Ueki, Y. Endoh, S. Hosoya, G. Shirane, R.J. Birgeneau, M. Greven, M.A. Kastner and Y.J. Kim.

16. Magnetic, transport and optical properties of monolayer copper oxides, Rev. of Modern Physics, 70, 897, (1998), M.A. Kastner, R.J. Birgeneau, G. Shirane and Y. Endoh.

17. Ferroelectric Ordering in the Relaxor Pb(Mg1/3Nb2/3)O3 as Evidenced by Low-Temperature Phonon Anomalies, Phys. Rev. B 65, 172105, (2002), S. Wakimoto, C. Stock, R.J. Birgeneau, Z.-G. Ye, W. Chen, W.J.L. Buyers, P.M. Gehring and G. Shirane.

18. Smectic Ordering in Liquid-Crystal-Aerosil Dispersions, I. X-Ray Scattering, Phys. Rev. E 67, 11708, (2003), R.I. Leheny, S. Park, R.J. Birgeneau, J.-L. Gallani, C.W. Garland and G.S. Iannacchione.

19. Universal static and dynamic properties of the structural transition in Pb(Zn1/3Nb2/3)O-3, Phys. Rev. B 69, 094104, (2004), C. Stock, R.J. Birgeneau, S. Wakimoto, J.S. Gardner, W. Chen, Z.G. Ye and G. Shirane.

20. Direct Relation Between the Low-Energy Spin Excitations and Superconductivity of Overdoped High-Tc Superconductors, Phys. Rev. Lett. 92, 217004, (2004), S. Wakimoto, H. Zhang, K. Yamada, I. Swainson, H. Kim and R.J. Birgeneau.

21. Neutron diffraction study of the magnetic and structural phase transitions in BaFe2As2, Phys Rev B 79, 184519, (2009), S.D. Wilson, C.R. Rotundu, B. Freelon, E. Bourret-Courchesne and R.J. Birgeneau.

22. Interplay between magnetism and superconductivity in iron-chalcogenide superconductors: crystal growth and characterizations, Reports on Progress in Physics 74, 12, 124503, (2011), J.S. Wen, G.Y. Xu, G.D. Gu, J.M. Tranquada and R.J. Birgeneau.

23. Neutron-Diffraction Measurements of an Antiferromagnetic Semiconducting Phase in the Vicinity of the High-Temperature Superconducting State of KxFe2-ySe2, Physical Review Letters, 109, 26, 267003, (2012), J. Zhao, H. Cao, E. Bourret-Courchesne, D.-H. Lee and R.J. Birgeneau.

24. Photoelectron spin-flipping and texture manipulation in a topological insulator, Nature Physics, 9, 5, pp. 293-298 (2013), C. Jozwiak, C.-H. Park, K. Gotlieb, C. Hwang, D.-H. Lee, S.G. Louie, J.D. Denlinger, C.R. Rotundu, R.J. Birgeneau, Z. Hussain and A. Lanzara. 

25. Spin waves and magnetic exchange interactions in the spin-ladder compound RbFe2Se3, Phys Rev B 94, 4, 041111, (2016), M. Wang, M. Yi, S.J. Jin, H.C. Jiang, Y. Song, H.Q. Luo, A.D. Christianson, C. de la Cruz, E. Bourret-Courchesne, D.X. Yao, D.H. Lee and R.J. Birgeneau.  DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevB.94.041111.

26. Correlated states in β-Li2IrO3 driven by applied magnetic fields, Nature Communications 8, 961, (2017), A. Ruiz, A. Frano N.P. Breznay, I. Kimchi, T. Helm, I. Oswald, J.Y. Chan, R.J. Birgeneau, Z. Islam and J.G. Analytis.  DOI: 10.1038/s41467-017-01071-9.

Edited Volumes

1.  “Frontiers of Neutron Scattering: In honor of Clifford G. Shull on the occasion of his 70th birthday.”  Editors, Robert J. Birgeneau, David E. Moncton, and Anton Zeilinger.  Physica 137 B, pp1-393, (1986).

2.  “Neutron and X-ray Scattering at the Frontiers and Gen Shirane.”  Editors, Robert J. Birgeneau, Martin Blume, Roger A. Cowley, and Yasuo Endoh.  Journal of the Physical Society of Japan 75, pp 111001-1 to 111006-13, (2006).

3.  “Neutron and X-ray Scattering Applied to Condensed Matter Systems: A special issue dedicated to Professor Roger Cowley.”  Editors, Robert J. Birgeneau, Christopher Stock, and Desmond McMorrow.  Journal of Physics: Condensed Matter 32, pp 370201-374014, (2020).

Major Non-Technical Articles and Books

1. “Academic Freedom Is Alive and Well at the University of Toronto,” Toronto Star, October 8, 2001.

2. “The Links Between University Research and Economic Success,” Conference Board of Canada, Val David, Quebec, January 18-20, 2002. This address was reported and reproduced in various national media (e.g. "Encouraging Minds to Flourish," Toronto Star, January 29, 2002; CBC Newsworld interview, February 6, 2002).

3. “University Education that Canadians Deserve,” Toronto Star, September 16, 2003.

4. “Celebrating Sexual Diversity,” Toronto Star, October 27, 2003.

5. “Anti-bias Law Has Backfired at Berkeley,” Opinion/Editorial, Los Angeles Times, March 27, 2005.

6. “The World Is Round in Berkeley:  Seizing Opportunity in a Globalized World,” San Francisco Chronicle, February 22, 2006.

7. “On Our Energy Future UC-BP Partnership Offers Path to Energy Independence,” with Steven Chu, San Francisco Chronicle, April 15, 2007.

8. “A Modern Public University,” Commentary, Nature Materials 6, 465 – 467, July 1, 2007.

9. “Undocumented Students Deserve Aid Too,” Opinion/Editorial, Los Angeles Times, July 7, 2007.

10. “Is a UC education affordable?,” Open Forum, San Francisco Chronicle, August 22, 2007.

11. J. Handelsman and R.J. Birgeneau.  Women advancing science.  DNA and Cell Biology 26, 763-764 (2007).  Also appeared in the Technology Review Blog, Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2007,

12. “Bravo for Yale and Harvard, but what about the rest?” Opinion, USA Today, January 23, 2008.

13. “The World’s Energy Problem and What We Can Do About It,” Introduction, Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. LXI, No. 2, Winter 2008, pp. 53-54.

14. “Challenges to Public Universities,” Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. LXII, No. 2, Winter 2009, pp. 36 – 39.

15. “Rescuing Our Public Universities,” with Frank D. Yeary, The Washington Post, September 27, 2009.

16. “Zero Fees, Zero Low Income Students?” The Sacramento Bee, February 17, 2010.

17. “UC Berkeley's future is California's future,” San Francisco Chronicle (Op-Ed), March, 25, 2012.

18. “Access and excellence, locally and globally,” Times Higher Education World Reputation Rankings, March 7, 2013.

19. “The Benefit of Public Investment in Higher Education:  California and Beyond,” Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. LXVI, No. 4, Summer 2013, pp. 20-23. 

20. “How to Maintain America’s Global Preeminence,” TIME, October 7, 2013.

21. “At Berkeley” (motion picture), Wiseman, F. (Producer & Director), 2013, USA:  Zipporah Films.

22. “A New Strategy to Maintain America’s Position of Global Preeminence,” Carnegie Reporter, Winter 2014, 12-13.

23. “The Lincoln Project:  Access and Excellence in Public Education,” Bulletin of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Vol. LXVII, No. 2, Winter 2014, pp. 51-52. 

24. “To fix California's colleges, reform Prop. 13 by taxing corporations more,” Opinion/Editorial, Los Angeles Times (November 2, 2015)

25. “Public Research Universities:  Why They Matter,” American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Cambridge, MA, 2015.

26. “Public Research Universities: Changes in State Funding,” American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Cambridge, MA, 2015.

27. “Public Research Universities: Understanding the Financial Model,” American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Cambridge, MA, 2016.

28. “Public Research Universities: Serving the Public Good,” American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Cambridge, MA, 2016. 

29. “Public Research Universities:  Recommitting to Lincoln’s Vision -- An Educational Compact for the 21st Century,” American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Cambridge, MA, 2016. 

30. “Charles M. Vest,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Vol. 159, No. 1, March 2015.

31. “Not Just Salk,” Science, Vol. 357, Issue: 6356, pp. 1105-1106 (September 15, 2017).  DOI: 10.1126/science.aao6221.

32. “The Scientific Justification for a U.S. Domestic High-Performance Reactor-Based Research Facility,” Office of Science, U.S. Department of Energy, July (2020).