Karl Taylor Compton Medal for Leadership in Physics

About the Medal

The Karl Taylor Compton Medal recognizes distinguished physicists for outstanding statemanship in science. The award established in 1957 by the American Institute of Physics (AIP) in honor of Karl Taylor Compton, first chairman and one of the principal founders of AIP, for his tireless work as a combination scientist-statesman and statesman-scientist. Intended primarily for U.S. physicists, the award is given every four years, or when it appears appropriate. It consists of a medal, a certificate, and a cash award of $10,000. The award is supported by a restricted/endowed fund.


  • The award is for distinguished physicists who have demonstrated notable statesmanship in science. Examples would include advancing the public understanding of science, inspirational teaching and mentoring, promoting peace and seeking solutions to world problems, leadership of scientific institutions, advocacy and policy development in support of science, and efforts to increase diversity advance gender and racial equality in the physical sciences. A citation on the accompanying certificate will state the particular service for which the award is made.
  • The recipient is chosen by the Institute's Board of Directors on the recommendation of a committee appointed for the purpose.
  • The medalist is expected to receive the award in person. Travel expense is reimbursed by the Institute.

Current Compton Medal winner

Helen R. Quinn is the 2016 recipient of the Karl T. Compton Medal for Leadership in Physics “for her leadership in promoting K-12 education and outreach, including the development of standards and approaches to science education that have had an enormous influence at the local, state, national and international levels, and for her broad and deep contributions to the advancement of theoretical particle physics.” 

See past Compton Medal recipients

Nomination process

The nomination period is now closed. The 2016 Award winner has been announced.

Nominations are to be submitted in pdf format via email; include ALL information/attachments in one email:

  1. Letter of nomination
  2. Two letters supporting the nomination
  3. Curriculum vitae of the nominee
  4. Proposed citation for the award

Nomination material should be emailed to Margaret Wiley (mwiley [at] aip.org), Assistant to CEO.

Contact information

Margaret Wiley (mwiley [at] aip.org)