Professor Eric Cornell was born in Palo Alto, CA, and raised in Cambridge, MA. He received a B.S. in Physics with honor and distinction from Stanford University in 1985, winning the Firestone Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research for his senior thesis experiment on surface-adsorbed helium at cryogenic temperatures. In the midst of his undergraduate studies, he took a year off to travel in Asia, teaching English in Taichung, Taiwan, and studying and traveling in China.
He did his graduate work at the Massachusetts Institute for Technology, where he completed his Ph.D. with Professor David Pritchard in the Physics Department. His graduate research culminated in a sub-part-per-billion comparison of the masses of a single carbon monoxide ion and a single molecular nitrogen ion. He also published a quantitative theoretical analysis of the issues involved in making part-per-trillion mass comparisons.
Prof Cornell accepted a post-doctoral opportunity to work in the labs of Carl Wieman at JILA at CU in Boulder in 1990. In 1992, he became a senior scientist with NIST, and Assistant Professor, Adjoint in the Physics Dept at CU. In 1994, he was appointed Fellow of JILA and in 1995 was promoted to Professor, Adjoint in the Physics Department. He has an active research program in the area of precision metrology, in particular an attempt to measure the electron's electric dipole moment.
Prof Cornell's work on Bose-Einstein Condensation has been recognized by a number of awards, including the Samuel Wesley Stratton Award from NIST, the Zeiss Award in Optics, the Department of Commerce Gold Medal, the Fritz London Award for low temperature physics, the Rabi Prize of the American Physical Society, the 1997 King Faisal International Prize for Science, the Lorentz Medal in 1998, in 1999 the R. W. Wood Prize and the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics, and in 2000 was elected as a Fellow of the Optical Society of America and a Member of the National Academy of Sciences.