Charles Sommerfield

Professor of Physics

Charles SommerfieldCharles Sommerfield, B.S., Brooklyn College, Ph.D. Harvard University, faculty member at Yale since 1961: Your PhD dissertation, providing the first higher-order study of quantum electrodynamics, stands as one of the great milestones in the history of quantum field theory. You came to Yale as part of a new cohort of faculty who would transform the Physics Department in the 1960’s. You introduced new courses in theoretical physics, and you initiated the weekly theoretical seminar that continues to this day. In the 1970’s, with the advent of gauge field theories, your work with your graduate student Prasad became a classic. The Prasad-Sommerfield monopole solution pointed the way to a much deeper understanding of strongly coupled quantum field theories, and then of string theory.

You have been an extraordinary teacher and mentor, and an admired citizen of the Physics Department, Trumbull College, and the University. You have been called on often by the American Physical Society to edit its journals and chair its key committees. And through all of this, you rarely missed a day on the Payne-Whitney running track and in its fitness center, where undergraduates and graduate students had no idea what a distinguished theoretical elementary particle physicist was running and working out right alongside them. As you retire and join your wife, a professor of Surgery and Psychology, who is about to begin a visiting year at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Yale cheers you and thanks you, and hopes that such a loyal and distinguished Yalie will be back on its running track soon.

Tribute Editor: Penelope Laurans