Karl Taylor Compton Medal for Leadership in Physics

Nominations now closed. Nominations for the 2022 Compton Medal will open on June 1, 2021.

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

  • Letter of nomination
  • Two letters supporting the nomination
  • Curriculum vitae of the nominee
  • Proposed citation for the award

Nomination material should be emailed to the Award Committee Liaison, Steve Mackwell, AIP Deputy Executive Officer, smackwell [at] aip.org.

Self-nominations are permitted, and we encourage nominations of women, members of underrepresented minority groups, and scientists from outside the United States.

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 now given every two 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

Paul Ginsparg is the 2020 recipient of the Karl T. Compton Medal for Leadership in Physics “for his paradigm-changing contributions to physics information sharing by inventing, developing and managing the arXiv system for electronic distribution of pre-publication (or preprint) papers. This system provides equitable world-wide access to the forefront of physics research activity, both pre- and post-publication in refereed journal, and has since been emulated by a number of other scientific fields."

See past Compton Medal recipients