Meet Our Physicists

Daniel Z. Freedman

Daniel Freedman, photo from the Breakthrough Prize

Daniel Zissel Freedman is a theoretical physicist, an Emeritus Professor of Physics and Applied Mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a Visiting Professor at Stanford University. A member of the US National Academy of Sciences, he is mainly known for his work in supergravity. His research at large is in quantum field theory, quantum gravity, and superstring theory with an emphasis on the role of supersymmetry. His most recent area of concentration is the AdS/CFT correspondence in which results on the strong coupling limit of certain 4-dimensional gauge theories can be obtained from calculations in classical 5-dimensional supergravity.

Daniel Freedman completed his undergraduate degree at Wesleyan University, and his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1964. From 1967 to 1968, Freedman was a member of the School of Natural Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and returned later in 1973-1974 and 1986-1987. He was appointed Professor of Applied Mathematics at MIT in 1980 and joint Professor of Physics in 2001. Before joining MIT, he was a Professor at Stony Brook University.

In 1976, Daniel Z. Freedman co-discovered (with Sergio Ferrara and Peter van Nieuwenhuizen) supergravity. Supergravity generalizes Einstein’s theory of general relativity by incorporating the (then-new) idea of supersymmetry. In the following decades it had implications for physics beyond the Standard Model, for superstring theory and for mathematics. For his work on supergravity, Freedman, a former Sloan and twice Guggenheim Fellow, as well as Ferrara and van Nieuwenhuizen, received in 1993 the Dirac Medal and Prize, in 2006 the Dannie Heineman Prize for Mathematical Physics, in 2016 the Majorana Medal, and in 2019 the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. Freedman also gave the 2002 Andrejewski Lectures in Mathematical Physics at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences in Leipzig, Germany.

Daniel Freedman, photo from the Breakthrough Prize

Positions Held

Trustee, 1977 – 1982
Secretary, 1978 – 1979
General Member, 1990 – 1994
Honorary Member, 1994 – current