Elected: 1954
Discipline: Physics and Astronomy
Professor Nicholas Kemmer FRSE
Born in Russia and brought up in Germany, the physicist Nicholas Kemmer was personally educated by Max Born, Werner Heisenberg and Wolfgang Pauli, becoming a PhD student in Switzerland, a war worker in Canada, and a university lecturer in Cambridge.

From there he was hand-picked in 1952 by the Vice-Chancellor of Edinburgh University, Sir Edward Appleton, and by Max Born (both FRS and Nobel prizewinners), for one of the historic Chairs in Edinburgh University, that of the Tait Professor of Mathematical Physics. For the next quarter of a century Kemmer was to occupy it with distinction and to the great advantage of generations of gifted undergraduates and postgraduates – less than gifted students shy away from the formidable challenges of abstruse mathematical physics.

Professor Sir Martin Rees, the Astronomer Royal, said: “He really was an exceptionally clever mathematician who is remembered by those whom he taught and who read his papers and learned journals on both sides of the Atlantic.”

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