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The Karl Berkelman Fellowship

The Karl Berkelman Fellowship has been established to honor the memory of our friend and colleague, Karl Berkelman, and to help bring forth a new generation of the best young physicists to carry forward the legacy of superb science that Karl was known for.

Karl was the Goldwin Smith Professor Emeritus of Physics at Cornell University, an internationally recognized leader in elementary particle physics, and a widely respected and admired colleague in the Cornell Physics Department. He was director of Cornell's Laboratory of Nuclear Studies (now the Laboratory for Elementary-Particle Physics) from 1985 to 2000. Under his leadership the laboratory prospered and maintained a prominent position at the frontiers of elementary particle physics that was exceptional for the size of the laboratory and its financial resources.

Karl began his Cornell career as a graduate student in the physics department, earning his Ph.D. degree in 1959. He then joined the Cornell physics faculty following a year as a NSF Postdoctoral Fellow at the Instituto Superiore di Santa in Rome, and rose rapidly through the professorial ranks, becoming a full professor in 1967 and the Goldwin Smith Professor of Physics in 1995.

Karl came to international attention in 1965 when he made the first significant measurement of the size of the pion, a measurement that at that time was at the frontier of elementary particle physics. During the 1970s, Karl was a leader in a series of experiments exploring the production of hadrons by beams of photons and electrons incident on hydrogen targets -- again topics that were on the frontier of elementary particle physics. These experiments were carried out at the Cornell electron synchrotron. As a world leader in this field, he was frequently invited to review progress at the major international scientific conferences, and he quickly became one of the most prominent members of the Cornell physics faculty.

Over the years Karl contributed significantly to the design and construction of a sequence of electron accelerators at Cornell and the associated experiments and he exploited the new physics opportunities that they provided. In the late 1970s, the laboratory constructed CESR, an accelerator that stores electrons and their antiparticles, positrons, and collides them in a detector called CLEO. During this period, Karl was responsible for the design and construction of the complex system that extracted electron and positron beams from the 10 GeV? synchrotron and injected them into CESR. Simultaneously, Karl developed a track-finding program for CLEO that became the basis for all physics results produced by the CLEO collaboration. Just before Karl became director of the laboratory in 1985, the NSF approved a proposal for the CLEO II detector and a substantial upgrade of CESR. The CLEO II detector broke new ground in detector technology and capability, and has served as the model for later detectors in the field. In his role as laboratory director, Karl oversaw the construction and operation of the CLEO II detector, the luminosity upgrades of CESR, and the exploitation of the two to produce a host of important discoveries in heavy flavor physics. Members of the CLEO collaboration fondly remember Karl's 15 years as director of the laboratory as a golden age. Younger colleagues particularly appreciated the attention that Karl paid to the development of their careers and to their sense of belonging to the laboratory. Without question, Karl's scientific leadership of the laboratory during that period was crucial for the success of the program.

While he was the laboratory director, Karl remained heavily involved in the CLEO physics program. He continued to be the thesis advisor for graduate students, and he contributed his physics insight, his clarity of thought, and his wisdom to many of the most significant discoveries and measurements made by the CLEO collaboration. Karl's participation in the laboratory and CLEO did not end with his retirement as director, or his later retirement as the Goldwin Smith Professor of Physics. He remained involved in CLEO, and even participated actively in a monthly CLEO collaboration meeting only three weeks before his untimely death in February 2009.

Karl's scientific accomplishments, calm wisdom, and insightful leadership left an indelible impression on scientific research at Cornell and on the broader elementary particle physics community. The Karl Berkelman Fellowship commemorates his contributions and seeks to promote and support the best of each new generation of physicists who follow in his footsteps.