Members of the Brown Community,

I write to share very sad news that Gerald Guralnik, the Chancellor’s Professor of Physics at Brown, passed away over the weekend. He had been a highly respected member of the Brown faculty for 47 years.

Professor Guralnik came to Brown as an assistant professor of physics in 1967 from the University of Rochester, where he had been a postdoctoral research associate. His research was in the area of elementary particle theory, a field in which he made significant and lasting contributions through his mentorship, teaching and scholarship. He was one of six physicists who originated a theory explaining why some particles have mass and others do not. That theory, which would come to be known as the Higgs mechanism, was proven nearly 50 years later by an international team of physicists at the Large Hadron Collider in Geneva, Switzerland. Professor Guralnik told the New York Times that there was “applause like a football game” at the meeting where the Higgs boson discovery was announced. He also stated at the time, “It is a wonderful feeling of great satisfaction and amazement. We started out to solve an interesting and challenging abstract problem; we were surprised by the answer that turned up.”

Professor Guralnik received his Sc.B. from M.I.T and his Ph.D. from Harvard. During his career he conducted research at Imperial College, London, under a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. He was a Fellow of the American Physical Society and was an Alfred P. Sloan Research Foundation Fellow.

A more complete tribute to Professor Guralnik’s exceptional career will be featured on this week. We extend our deepest condolences to Professor Guralnik’s family, as well as to his colleagues at Brown and throughout the world with whom he collaborated so productively over the decades.


Christina H. Paxson
Professor of Economics and Public Policy
Brown University