Ahmed Zewail
21st Century Council
Dr. Ahmed Zewail served as a valued and dedicated member of the 21st Century Council before passing from cancer in August 2016.

Dr. Zewail was the Linus Pauling Chair professor of chemistry and professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Director of the Moore Foundation’s Center for Physical Biology at Caltech. He received his early education in Egypt and completed a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania and a postdoctoral (IBM) fellowship at the University of California, Berkeley, before joining the faculty at Caltech.

On April 27, 2009, President Barack Obama appointed him to the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST), and in November of the same year, he was named the first United States Science Envoy to the Middle East.

In 1999, Dr. Zewail was awarded the Nobel Prize for his pioneering developments in femtoscience, making possible observations of atomic motions during molecular transformations in femtosecond, a millionth of a billionth of a second. More recently, he and his group have developed the field of four-dimensional (4D) electron microscopy for the direct visualization of matter’s behavior, from atoms to biological cells, in the four dimensions of space and time. He was the author and coauthor of over 500 articles and treatises.

Besides his academic leadership Dr. Zewail was also renowned for his efforts in promoting knowledge-based development and global peace. For decades, he was involved in establishing a strategic base for education and economic development in his native country, Egypt, and in the Arab world. His public lectures were televised to millions in the Middle East and he authored editorials on governance, education, and development in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times, The Independent, The Guardian, The Times, and the International Herald Tribune, among others.

For his contributions to science and public life he garnered, besides the Nobel Prize, other honors from around the globe: Forty Honorary Degrees in the sciences, arts, philosophy, law, medicine, and humane letters; Orders of State and Merit; commemorative postage stamps; and more than 100 international awards, including the Albert Einstein World Award, Benjamin Franklin Medal, the Leonardo da Vinci Award, the King Faisal Prize, and the Priestley Medal. In his name, international prizes have been established, and the Ahmed Zewail Foundation provides support for the dissemination of knowledge and for merit awards in arts and sciences. He was an elected member of academies and learned societies, including the American Philosophical Society, National Academy of Sciences, Royal Society of London, French Academy, Russian Academy, Chinese Academy, and the Swedish Academy.

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