Happy Birthday to Alumnus Professor LI Zhengdao


November 25, 2017 marks the 91st birthday of ZJU alumnus Professor LI Zhengdao, a renowned Chinese-American physicist and Nobel laureate in physics. This article is to pay tribute to Professor LI on behalf of the entire ZJU community.


Back in October, ZJU President WU Zhaohui and Academician Professor LUO Mingxing paid a special visit to LI in Los Angeles and briefed him on the latest developments of ZJU.

LI expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the University and enquired about the current status of ZJU’s Department of Physics and Zhejiang Institute of Modern Physics, where LI served as founding director in 1990.

In the company of visitors from his alma mater, it was a delight for LI to recall the past and mull over the future.

LI has long been concerned about the development of his alma mater. In a congratulatory letter to ZJU on its 120th anniversary, he wrote:

Time at Zhejiang University has become the most beautiful memory in my life. I will never forget the enlightenment I received at ZJU, particularly the instructions and guidance from professors SHU Xingbei and WANG Ganchang.” (Translation)

LI Zhengdao (aka. Tsung-Dao Lee) was born in Shanghai on November 25, 1926. In 1943, he was admitted to Zhejiang University. His early aptitude for physics was recognized and encouraged by his tutor Professor SHU Xingbei (1905-1983), a leading physicist in China. After completing only his sophomore year, he received a Chinese government fellowship for graduate study in the United States.

In 1953, LI joined Columbia University as an Assistant Professor. His first work was on the renormalizable field theory model, better known as the Lee Model. In 1957, LI, at the age of 30, he won the Nobel Prize in Physics with YANG Zhenning for their work on the violation of the parity law in weak interactions. LI was the youngest Nobel laureate after World War II until Malala Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.