Graduate students wearing caps and gowns line Healy Lawn at commencement with the Graduate School banner (half white, L, and half yellow, R) being carried by a student during the 2022 recessional
Category: News

Title: Brian Greene, World-Renowned Theoretical Physicist, Speaks at 2023 Graduate School Commencement

Author: By Jessica Marr
Date Published: May 3, 2023

Brian Greene, professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, will be the 2023 Graduate School of Arts & Sciences commencement speaker at Georgetown University.

Greene, a Rhodes Scholar, is globally recognized for his groundbreaking contributions to theoretical physics, in particular to superstring theory, including his co-discovery of mirror symmetry and spatial topology change. He is also widely known for his ability to explain difficult concepts to a wider audience.

Scholar, Teacher, Public Servant

Headshot of Brian Greene, Physics and Mathematics Professor at Columbia UniversityBorn and raised in New York City, Greene attended Harvard University where he earned his bachelor’s degree in physics, summa cum laude, in 1984. He went on to be awarded a Rhodes scholarship to attend Magdalen College at the University of Oxford where he earned a DPhil in theoretical physics.

His 1986 thesis, “Superstrings: Topology, Geometry and Phenomenology & Astrophysical Implications of Supersymmetric Models,” opens with a quotation from Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass before exploring scientific concepts for which he’s come to be internationally known. In 1996, after several years teaching at Cornell University, Greene joined the faculty at Columbia University, where he is now also the director of the Center for Theoretical Physics.

The author of five books, multiple PBS-NOVA mini-series, and a finalist for the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for non-fiction, Greene is often described by the media as “the single best explainer of abstruse science in the world today” (Washington Post). In 2008, he and his wife Tracy Day, a former ABC News Producer, co-founded the World Science Festival in an effort to make science more accessible to the masses.

Honored in 2003 with the American Institute of Physics Andrew Gemant Award, Greene’s “significant contributions to the cultural, artistic, or humanistic dimension of physics” is profoundly evident in his five novels, including one for younger audiences called Icarus at the Edge of Time. In addition to his scholarly work, he’s made recurring appearances on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, cameos in several Hollywood films and was featured with a small speaking role in an episode of the popular TV show The Big Bang Theory.

“To be able also to present these and other intrinsically complex concepts in a way that makes them comprehensible to a wider audience is extraordinary.

– Alexander Sens, Dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences

“To have made profound scholarly contributions to our understanding of the universe is a remarkable accomplishment in its own right, says Alexander Sens, dean of the Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. “To be able also to present these and other intrinsically complex concepts in a way that makes them comprehensible to a wider audience is extraordinary. We are delighted that Dr. Greene will share his insights with our graduating students as they move toward their future beyond Georgetown.

At the Commencement Ceremony, Greene will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters.

The Graduate School’s ceremony for graduating students, their families and our community will take place on Friday, May 19 at 9:00 a.m. on Healy Lawn.

For more information about Commencement Weekend, please visit the official Commencement website.