Physicist Howard Haber wins Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Physics

Howard Haber
Howard Haber (photo by C. Lagattuta)

Howard Haber, distinguished professor of physics at UC Santa Cruz, has been awarded the J.J. Sakurai Prize for Theoretical Physics by the American Physical Society (APS).

Haber shares the prize with three fellow physicists: John Gunion at UC Davis, Gordon Kane at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and Sally Dawson at Brookhaven National Laboratory. The award recognizes the four theoretical physicists for their "instrumental contributions to the theory of the properties, reactions, and signatures of the Higgs boson."

The Higgs boson is an important consequence of the theory that explains the properties of the weak nuclear force and the masses of the fundamental particles. In 1990, Haber and his fellow prize-winners coauthored a widely used book, The Higgs Hunter's Guide, known as a definitive and comprehensive guide to the physics of Higgs bosons.

Haber is well known for his role in developing extended theories of the Higgs boson and applying those theories to experiments in high-energy particle physics. The existence of the Higgs boson was predicted in 1964, but it wasn't until 2012 that physicists finally obtained solid evidence of its existence in experiments at the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva, Switzerland. Extended theories that contain additional Higgs bosons (not yet discovered) are the basis for new particle searches now being performed at the Large Hadron Collider.

The recipients of the Sakurai Prize will be honored at an APS meeting in Washington, D.C., in January 2017.

Haber went to MIT as an undergraduate and earned his Ph.D. in physics at the University of Michigan. He joined the UCSC faculty in 1984. A fellow of the American Physical Society, he received a prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Research Award in 2009. He is a member of the Particle Data Group, an international collaboration, and was elected as an honorary member of the Aspen Center for Physics in recognition of his extensive service.