2010 – Kenneth Libbrecht

“Kenneth Libbrecht’s images open people’s eyes to the regularity and beauty of nature with his photographs of snowflakes, which turn mathematics, physics and chemistry into images of great beauty.”

California Institute of Technology’s Chairman of the Department of Physics and Professor of Physics Kenneth Libbrecht (b. 1958), PhD, has been honored for his extraordinary images of natural and synthetic snowflakes, which hold broad public appeal as well as intrinsic value. His quest to expand the body of knowledge about the structure of snowflakes and the mechanisms behind the formation of snow crystals has been well documented in several books written by Libbrecht, including Snowflakes (2008) and The Art of a Snowflake (2007).

Libbrecht’s snowflake and snow crystal images have been widely published in popular science magazines and scientific journals and featured on postage stamps in the U.S. (2006) and in Sweden (2010). His Snowflakes and Snow Crystals website pays homage to these complex yet miniscule temporal masterpieces.

After receiving his undergraduate degree in Physics from Caltech, Libbrecht went on to receive a PhD in solar physics from Princeton University and then returned to Caltech to teach. Libbrecht continues to investigate the physics of ice crystal growth and is researching the detection of gravitational waves signals after the occurrence of catastrophic astrophysical events at Caltech’s Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO).