Fred Lamb

Illinois Physics Research Professor and Professor emeritus Frederick Lamb has received the 2021 Five Sigma Physicist Award of the American Physical Society’s (APS) Government Affairs team (APS GA). Lamb is one of 10 society members being honored by the APS for their science-policy advocacy efforts throughout the past year.

Lamb was selected in recognition of his work leading the APS Study of Ballistic Missile Defense, as chair of the Study Group. The group’s work, titled Ballistic Missile Defense: Threats and Challenges, promotes improvements to U.S. missile defense policies and programs aimed at defending against intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

Lamb has long been involved in arms control, disarmament, and international security efforts. During the past four decades he has served as an expert advisor on national and international security issues to the Department of Defense, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment, and various Congressional committees, including the U.S. House and Senate Armed Services Committees and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His expertise spans missile defense, anti-satellite weapons, nuclear test bans, space policy and its military aspects and nuclear nonproliferation. He has been a core faculty member in the University of Illinois Program in Arms Control and Domestic & International Security since 1982 and has served on its executive committee. Lamb is also a founding member of the APS-sponsored Physicists Coalition for Reducing the Nuclear Threat and shared the 2005 Leo Szilard Award of the APS for co-chairing its 2003 study of boost-phase missile defense.

In his research career, Lamb has made seminal contributions to the fields of atomic physics and relativistic and high-energy astrophysics. He advocated for the creation of NASA’s Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE) mission, which used their X-ray emissions to obtain unprecedented information about neutron stars, white dwarfs, and black holes, and he served on its scientific panels throughout its 16-year mission from 1995 to 2012. He is currently a member of the science team of NASA’s Neutron Star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER) mission. He was appointed the inaugural Brand and Monica Fortner Endowed Chair of Theoretical Astrophysics at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 1998.

In addition to being an APS member and Fellow, Lamb is currently serving as the 2022 chair-elect of the APS Forum on Physics and Society (FPS). He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Lamb is the author or co-author of more than 250 articles, monographs, and chapters in books on topics in physics, astrophysics, and national and international security. Links to many of Lamb’s publications can be found here.

Content written by: Jamie Hendrickson is a writer and content creator in higher education communications.