Kivelson Lecture

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Select photos from the 2014 Daniel Kivelson Lecture are now available for viewing.

Professor H. Daniel Ou-Yang (Department of Physics, Lehigh University) was the speaker for the 2014 Daniel Kivelson Lecture held on February 24, 2014. Professor Ou-Yang presented a talk titled, “Generalized Sedimentation Equilibrium of Colloidal Suspensions: Einstein’s 1905 Paper on Brownian Motion Revisited.” The lecture was followed by a reception in the Winstein Cafe Commons where faculty and graduate students were able to celebrate the life and career of Daniel Kivelson (1929-2003).

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Top Left: Daniel Kivelson
Top Right: H. Daniel Ou-Yang
Middle: Kivelson Lecture being presented by H. Daniel Ou-Yang
Bottom Left: Emil Reisler, Charles Knobler, H. Daniel Ou-Yang, and Margaret Kivelson
Bottom Right: Howard Reiss, H. Daniel Ou-Yang, and Bill Gelbart

About Daniel Kivelson
Daniel Kivelson was born in New York City in 1929. He began undergraduate studies in chemistry and physics at Harvard in 1945 and continued there until 1953 when he received a doctorate in chemical physics under the supervision of E. Bright Wilson. After two years as an instructor at MIT, Kivelson came to UCLA in 1955 as an instructor. His thesis research had been concerned with the use of microwave spectroscopy as a tool for determining molecular structure and at UCLA he established a program in electron spin resonance spectroscopy. This early research had the hallmarks of Kivelson approach to science – a combination of expertise in experimentation with fundamental theoretical analysis. After 40 years, his treatment of electron spin relaxation in fluids continues to be one of the most highly cited papers in the field. Kivelson made important contributions to the theory of molecular relaxation in fluids throughout his career and carried out complementary experimental studies by light scattering, in which he was an early leader. During the past ten years Kivelson had undertaken experimental and theoretical research on supercooled liquids and glasses and he brought major new insights into this important and challenging area. He pursued this research vigorously until his death.

Kivelson was a brilliant and charismatic teacher. He was a mentor to many graduate students and post-doctoral fellows and he took particular pleasure in introducing undergraduates to research. Never completely happy with the textbooks that were available for his courses, he wrote extensive class notes, which he revised nearly every quarter. He continued to teach undergraduates each year after his retirement in 2000. Kivelson received the UCLA Harvey L. Eby “Art of Teaching Memorial Award” in 1967 and was the recipient of the 1987 College of Letters and Science Faculty Award. In 2001 he received a Senior Scientist Mentor award from the Dreyfus Foundation in recognition of his commitment to undergraduate research.

Kivelson’s record of service was also exceptional. He chaired many departmental committees and held the positions of both undergraduate and graduate advisor. From 1975 to 1978 he served as department chair. When there were thorny campus issues to be addressed, Kivelson was likely to be asked to deal with them. During the Vietnam War he chaired a College Committee to Study ROTC; he was a member of a Special Senate Committee on Faculty Ethics and he chaired or was a member of committees to address the problem of faculty housing, review academic programs, and recommend several deans, librarians and vice-chancellors. He chaired the UCLA Division of the Academic Senate in 1978-79.

It is not surprising that Kivelson was the recipient of many awards and distinctions for his scholarly work. These include Guggenheim, Sloan and Fulbright Fellowships, the American Chemical Society California Section Award, and the Herbert Newby McCoy Award. He was a fellow of the American Physical Society and was awarded its Irving Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics in 1999. He presented the Lorentz lecture at the University of Leiden and the Willard Lectures at the University of Wisconsin.

Kivelson’s passions extended beyond science. He collected Turkoman weavings, wrote about them, and lent pieces to museums. He loved good food and could speak with authority about the merits of restaurants in Los Angeles or Paris. He traveled widely and to out-of-the-way locales but had a special fondness for London and Paris. He was knowledgeable about current affairs and was in the best sense a liberal, imbued with a respect for social justice and democracy.

Kivelson set an example that has been a source of inspiration to many. His ambition was not to win prizes and attract attention (although he did), but to do beautiful science, to enjoy doing it with friends, and to instruct new generations of scientists.  

The Kivelson Lecture and the UCLA Chemistry & Biochemistry Kivelson Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowships were established so that Daniel Kivelson’s legacy will live on and help educate young scientists.  If you are interested in contributing towards the Kivelson Lecture or Kivelson Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship, please contact Jin Lee (310-825-4405 or