About Tom


Tom in Lab

Thomas F. Rosenbaum was born on February 20, 1955 in New York City. He received his BA from Harvard in 1977 and his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1982 where he did this thesis work at Bell Laboratories. In 1983, after a postdoc at IBM Watson Research Center, he joined the University of Chicago Department of Physics. There he rose through the academic ranks to become the John T. Wilson Distinguished Service Professor. Tom’s thesis and postdoctoral work earned him the inaugural William McMillan Award. He is an elected fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Tom has also had a distinguished career in academic administration. At Chicago, he served as Director of the Materials Research Center, the Director of the James Franck Institute, and Vice President for Research and for Argonne National Laboratory. He has served on the Board of Governors for Argonne, the Board of Directors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and the Santa Fe Institute Science Board and is a Trustee of the National Opinion Research Center (NORC), and a Trustee of the University of Chicago Medical Center. In 2007, he was appointed Provost of the University of Chicago and then in 2014 he was named the President of the California Institute of Technology.

Tom’s research is in low-temperature solid-state physics.  He has advanced experimental techniques at milliKelvin temperatures by developing hydrostatic pressure, stress, magnetometry, and calorimetry methods for high-resolution studies and complemented these dilution refrigerator experiments with synchrotron x-ray measurements in diamond anvil cells.  He was one of the first experimentalists to understand the significance and ubiquity of quantum phase transitions that span magnetism to metal-insulator transitions and exotic superconductivity.  His work helped to put these transitions on a similar footing as their classical analog.  He established the nature of the metal-insulator transition in doped semiconductors and correlated materials, and demonstrated macroscopic anisotropy of non-s-wave superconductivity in heavy-fermion compounds.  His experiments tuned quantum fluctuations in magnetic systems and elucidated the macroscopic manifestations of quantum mechanics in order to craft a material’s electrical, magnetic, and optical response by harnessing disorder.