Born in New York on July 15, 1922 of immigrant parents. Son of Morris
Lederman. One sibling, Paul Lederman, six years older. Started schooling in 1927
at PS 92 on Broadway and 95th Street. Graduated in 1943. Served three years in
the U.S. Army during which time achieved rank of 2nd Lieutenant in the Signal
Corps. In September of 1946 entered the Graduate School of Physics at
Joined Columbia Physics Department in their NEVIS Laboratory in 1948 and worked
with Professor Eugene T. Booth, the director of the 385 MeV Synchrocyclotron.
Thesis assignment was building a Wilson Cloud Chamber After receiving a Ph.D.
in 1951 he continued to work in the NEVIS lab for the next 28 years.
Became a professor in 1958. Took a sabbatical at CERN where he organized a group
to do the "g-2" experiment.
Lederman became director of the NEVIS Labs in 1961 and held his position until
1978.In 1979, he became Director of the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory
where he supervised the construction and utilization of the first
superconducting synchrotron, the highest energy accelerator in the world.
Has three children with his first wife, Florence Gordon. Daughter Rena is an
anthropologist, son Jesse is an investment banker and daughter Rachel a lawyer.
Lederman now lives with his second wife Ellen at the Fermilab Laboratory in
Batavia, Illinois. Helped to found and is on the Board of Trustees of the
Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, a three year residence public school
for gifted children in the State of Illinois.
After winning the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1988, Lederman retired from
Fermilab in 1989 to join the faculty of the University of Chicago as Professor
of Physics. In 1989 was appointed Science Adviser to the Governor of Illinois.
Lederman helped to organize a Teachers' Academy for Mathematics and Science,
designed to retrain 20,000 teachers in the Chicago Public Schools in the art of
teaching science and mathematics. Became President of the American Association
for the Advancement of Science in 1991.
Wrote his first book in 1992, "The God Particle", the second in 2001,
"Portraits of Great American Scientists". Contributed to "Chalk
Up Another One : The Best of Sidney Harris" in 1992 and "From Quarks
to the Cosmas" in 1995.
Honours: Leon Lederman is the recipient of fellowships from the Ford,
Guggenheim, Ernest Kepton Adams and National Science Foundations. He is a
founding member of the High Energy Physics Advisory Panel (to AEC, DOE) and the
International Committee on Future Accelerators. He has received the National
Medal of Science (1965), the Wolf Prize for Physics (1982), and the Nobel Prize
for Physics(1988) among many other awards.
Honourary D.Sc's have been awarded to Leon M. Lederman by City College of New
York, University of Chicago, Illinois Institute of Technology, Northern Illinois
University, Lake Forest College and Carnegie Mellon University.
D.Sc.'s have been awarded among others by the universities at Pisa, Italy and
Guanajuarto, Mexico. Elected to the National Academies of Science in Finland and
in Argentina. Serves on thirteen (non-paying) Boards of Directors of museums,
schools, science organizations and government agencies.