Thomas J. Watson, Sr. Professor of Science (Research), Director of Brain and Neural Systems


Leon Cooper was born in 1930 in New York where he attended Columbia University (A.B. 1951; A.M. 1953; Ph.D. 1954). He became a member of the Institute for Advanced Study (1954-55) after which he was a research associate of Illinois (1955-57) and later an assistant professor at the Ohio State University (1957-58). Professor Cooper joined Brown University in 1958 where he became Henry Ledyard Goddard University Professor (1966-74) and where he is presently the Thomas J. Watson, Sr. Professor of Science (1974-).

Professor Cooper is Director of Brown University's Center for Neural Science. This Center was founded in 1973 to study animal nervous systems and the human brain. Professor Cooper served as the first director with an interdisciplinary staff drawn from the Departments of Applied Mathematics, Biomedical Sciences, Linguistics and Physics. Today, Cooper, with members of the Brown Faculty, postdoctoral fellows and graduate students with interests in the neural and cognitive sciences, is working towards an understanding of memory and other brain functions, and thus formulating a scientific model of how the human mind works.

Professor Cooper has received many forms of recognition for his work, in 1972 he received the Nobel Prize in Physics (with J. Bardeen and J.R. Schrieffer) for his studies on the theory of superconductivity completed while still in his 20s. In 1968, he was awarded the Comstock Prize (with J.R. Schrieffer) of the National Academy of Sciences. He has also been awarded the Award of Excellence from the Graduate Faculties Alumni of Columbia University (1974), the Descartes Medal from the Academie de Paris, Université Rene Descartes (1977), the Yrjo Reenpaa Award from the Finnish Cultural Foundation (1982), the John Jay Award from Columbia University (1985), the Alexander Hamilton Award from Columbia University (1995), College de France Medal (2000). He also holds seven honorary doctorates. In 2013 Professor Cooper was awarded the Susan Culver Rosenberger Medal, the highest honor the Brown University faculty can give.

Professor Cooper has been an NSF Postdoctoral Fellow, 1954-55, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Research Fellow, 1959-66 and John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellow, 1965-66. He is a fellow of the American Physical Society and American Academy of Arts and Sciences; Sponsor, Federation of American Scientists; member of American Philosophical Society, National Academy of Sciences, Society of Neuroscience, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Phi Beta Kappa, and Sigma Xi.

Brown Affiliations

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