Special Events and Colloquia

Herman Z. Cummins Lectures

Every year, the physics department hosts a special lecture in honor of Herman Cummins, Distinguished Professor of Physics at City College from 1974 to 2004. 

Prof. Cummins was an experimental physicist at City College and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He joined the Physics Department of City College in 1974 as a Distinguished Professor of Physics, and immediately established his laser spectroscopy laboratory as one of the leading research sites in the world. His cutting-edge investigations cover: statistics of radiation-matter interactions, as well as elastic, quasi-elastic and inelastic light scattering (Rayleigh, Brillouin and Raman). His many seminal studies have elucidated the physical mechanisms in diverse areas: paraelectric ferroelectric phase transitions, commensurate-incommensurate transitions, exciton and polariton formation and dynamics, liquid glass and colloidal systems, and many more. Herman Cummins received numerous honors for his scientific contributions. He was elected a Member of the US National Academy of Sciences (1996); a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (2001),and to the Johns Hopkins Society of Scholars (2010). He was awarded the Docteur es Sciences, honoris causa, by the Universite de Paris, and a Senior Fellowship by the Humboldt Foundation. Earlier he received the Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship (1969-72),Guggenheim Fellowship (1984), and was elected Fellow of the American Physical Society and the New York Academy Sciences.


Spring 2020: Vahid Sandhoghdar
Max Plank Institute, Erlangen
April 22, 2020  4:00 PM MR418N,

Vahid Sandhoghdar
Prof. Vahid Sandoghdar

Past Speakers

Spring 2019: Joerg Wachtrup 

Nanoscale quantum sensing

Spring 2017: Charles Marcus

Semiconductor-Superconductor Hybrids forTopological Quantum Computing

Spring 2015: Steven Chu

Microscopy 2.0 plus Energy and Climate Change 

Spring 2014: Albert J. Libchaber

From bacteria to artificial cells,The problem of self reproduction

Spring 2013: Wolfgang Ketterle

Superfluid gases near absolute zero temperature

herman cummins
Distinguished Professor Herman Cummins

Mark W. Zemansky Lecture

This chair was established in honor of Mark W. Zemansky, Professor of Physics at the City College of New York. He co-authored University Physics with Francis W. Sears.

      “When the first edition...appeared in 1949, it was revolutionary among calculus-based physics textbooks in its emphasis on the fundamental principles of physics and how to apply them. The success of University Physics with generations of students and educators throughout the world is a testament to the merits of this approach.”

(Hugh D. Young and Roger A. Freedman, University Physics).

In 1956, The American Association of Physics Teachers awarded the Oersted Medal to Mark W. Zemansky in recognition of notable contributions to the teaching of physics. The CCNY Physics Department annually awards The Zemansky Introductory Physics Prize to outstanding students in Physics 20700 and 20800.

Michael Lubell is The Mark W. Zemansky Professor Physics. The Zemansky Chair was previously held by Distinguished Professor Daniel Greenberger and by Professor Seymour J. Lindenbaum.  



2020: John Preskill

Past Speakers

2018: Angel Rubio

Photons and matter cooperate: new states of matter from a novel first principles QEDFT formalism

2016: S. James Gates, Jr.

L’arte della Fisica

2014: Steven E. Koonin

Adventures in Urban Informatics: Lights,Phones, Sewers, Taxis

2011: Anton Zeilinger

Quantum Communication, Quantum Computation and Quantum Simulation with Entangled Photons

mark zemansky
Professor Mark Zemansky

Henry Semat Lecture

This lecture is sponsored by the Henry Semat Chair which was established in memory of Henry Semat, a physics professor at the City College of New York for over 45 years. The Henry Semat Professor of Physics is Professor Michio Kaku

Past Speakers

2018: Glennys Farrar

Could Dark Matter be Made of Quarks?

2011: Roman Jackiw

Fractional charge and Majorana excitations


henry semat
Professor Henry Semat

The Lawrence Wills Lectures

The Lawrence Wills Lectures are supported by The City College Fund in memory of Professor Lawrence Wills, who joined the CCNY Physics Department in 1933.  Until 1949 Professor Wills was the only theoretical physicist in the Department and taught classical theoretical physics and its mathematical methods as well as introductions to relativity and to quantum mechanics.  Prof. Wills' course was beyond compare in breadth and depth and in the clarity and elegance of its presentation.

Past Speakers

2013: Ivan K. Schuller

Why Physics? Beyond Atom Bombs and Big Bangs: Nanoscience

2010: Mildred Dresselhaus

Why Are We So Excited About Carbon Nanotubes

lawrence wills
Professor Lawrence Wills [Credit: CCNY Archives, Microscosm 1953]