PASADENA— Egypt has issued two postal stamps with the likeness of Ahmed Zewail, the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Physics and professor of physics at the California Institute of Technology. The stamps were issued in tribute to Zewail's scientific achievements. He was honored at a June 14 ceremony in Cairo, Egypt.
"I am particularly pleased as this honor comes from my country of birth and that I could be in the company of stamps honoring the pyramids, Tutankhamen, and Queen Nefertiti," said Zewail.
Peter B. Dervan, chair of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering, remarks that "Zewail's fundamental contributions to molecular science, like the pyramids, will be long lasting."
Zewail is internationally recognized for his development of ultrafast lasers and electrons to probe chemical reactions as they actually occur in real time. Because reactions can take place in a millionth of a billionth of a second, Zewail's research has, with state-of-the-art lasers, made it possible to observe and study for the first time atoms and molecules in motion, probing nature at its fundamental levels.
Specifically, Zewail seeks to understand better the way that chemical bonds form and break. With the development of laser techniques, he and his team have been able to obtain greater insights about the precise nature of chemical bonds. The field, femtochemistry, has had wide-ranging impact on chemistry and biology all over the world.
Born and raised in Egypt, Zewail received both his bachelor's and his master's degrees from Alexandria University. He earned his doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania in 1974 and joined the Caltech faculty in 1976 after two years as an IBM Fellow at the University of California at Berkeley. Dr. Zewail, now a U.S. citizen, is a member of the American Philosophical Society, National Academy of Sciences, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Third World Academy of Science, and European Academy of Arts, Sciences and Humanities, and he is a Fellow of the American Physical Society.
His international awards include the Benjamin Franklin Prize, the Robert A. Welch Award, the King Faisal Prize, the Wolf Prize, the Carl Zeiss Award, the Leonardo da Vinci Award of Excellence, the Bonner Chemiepreis Award, and the Medal of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Among his national prizes are many from the American Chemical Society, including the Harrison-Howe Award, the Peter Debye Award, the E. Bright Wilson Award, and the Buck-Whitney Award. The American Physical Society has honored Dr. Zewail with the Earle K. Plyler Prize and the Herbert P. Broida Prize. He has also received the Chemical Sciences Award from the National Academy of Sciences. In 1995, the president of Egypt, H. Mubarak, honored Zewail with the Order of Merit, First Class.
Founded in 1891, Caltech has an enrollment of some 2,000 students, and a faculty of about 280 professorial members and 284 research members. The Institute has more than 19,000 alumni. Caltech employs a staff of more than 1,700 on campus and 5,300 at JPL.
Over the years, 26 Nobel Prizes and four Crafoord Prizes have been awarded to faculty members and alumni. Forty-three Caltech faculty members and alumni have received the National Medal of Science; and eight alumni (two of whom are also trustees), two additional trustees, and one faculty member have won the National Medal of Technology. Since 1958, 13 faculty members have received the annual California Scientist of the Year award. On the Caltech faculty there are 75 fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences; and on the faculty and Board of Trustees, 68 members of the National Academy of Sciences and 46 members of the National Academy of Engineering.