About Ahmed Hassan Zewail, Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1999
Ahmed Hassan Zewail, أحمد حسن زويل, IPA: [ˈæħmæd ˈħæsæn zeˈweːl) (born February 26, 1946) is an Egyptian American scientist who won the 1999 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on femtochemistry. He is the Linus Pauling Chair Professor Chemistry and Professor of Physics at the California Institute of Technology.
Birth and education
Ahmed Zewail was born on February 26, 1946 in Damanhour, Egypt and raised Disuq. He received bachelor's degree and MS degree from the University of Alexandria before moving from Egypt to the United States to complete his PhD at the University of Pennsylvania with advisor Dr. Robin Hochstrasser. He completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley with advisor Dr. Charles B. Harris.
After some post doctorate work at UC-Berkeley, he was awarded a faculty appointment at Caltech in 1976, where he has remained since, and in 1990, he was made the first Linus Pauling Chair in Chemical Physics. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1982.
Dr. Zewail has been nominated and will participate in President Barack Obama's Presidential Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), an advisory group of the nation's leading scientists and engineers to advise the President and Vice President and formulate policy in the areas of science, technology, and innovation.
Zewail's key work has been as the pioneer of femtochemistry—i.e. the study of chemical reactions across femtoseconds. Using a rapid ultrafast laser technique (consisting of ultrashort laser flashes), the technique allows the description of reactions on very short time scales - short enough to analyse transition states in selected chemical reactions.
In 1999, Zewail became the tenth ethnic Egyptian to receive the Nobel Prize, following Egyptian president Anwar Al-Sadat (1978 in Peace), Naguib Mahfouz (1988 in Literature). Mohamed ElBaradei followed him (2005 in peace). Other international awards include the Wolf Prize in Chemistry (1993) awarded to him by the Wolf Foundation, the Tolman Medal (1997), the Robert A. Welch Award (1997), and the Priestley Medal from the American Chemical Society in 2011. In 1999, he received Egypt's highest state honor, the Grand Collar of the Nile.
Zewail was awarded a PHD Honoris Causa by Lund University in Sweden in May 2003 and is a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. Cambridge University awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in Science in 2006. In May 2008, Zewail received a PhD Honoris Causa from Complutense University of Madrid. In February, 2009, Zewail was awarded an honorary PhD in arts and sciences by the University of Jordan. In May 2010, he received a PhD Honoris Causa in Humane Letters from Southwestern University.
Zewail is married to Dema Faham (physician, m. 1989). They have four children, two daughters: Maha and Amani, and two sons: Nabeel and Hani.
In his June 4, 2009 speech at Cairo University, US President Barack Obama announced a new Science Envoy program as part of a "new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world." In January 2010, Ahmed Zewail, Elias Zerhouni, and Bruce Alberts became the first US science envoys to Islam, visiting Muslim-majority countries from North Africa to Southeast Asia.
When asked about rumors that he might contest the 2011 Egyptian presidential election, Ahmed Zewail said: "I am a frank man... I have no political ambition, as I have stressed repeatedly that I only want to serve Egypt in the field of science and die as a scientist."
During the 2011 Egyptian protests he announced his return to the country. Zewail said that he would join a committee for constitutional reform alongside Ayman Nour, Mubarak's rival at the 2005 presidential elections and a leading lawyer. Zewail was later mentioned as a respected figure working as a intermediary between the military regime ruling after Mubarak's resignation, and revolutionary youth groups such as the April 6 Youth Movement and young supporters of Mohamed ElBaradei.