Bringing the United States and Vietnam Closer Together through Educational Exchange


Isaac F. Silvera, Ph.D.

Photo of  Isaac F. Silvera, Ph.D. Isaac F. Silvera is currently the Thomas Dudley Cabot Professor of the Natural Sciences at Harvard University, where he has taught physics and conducted research since 1982. He received his Ph.D. in physics from the University of California and then spent a postdoctoral year in Grenoble, France studying magnetism in solids, and learning the French language. He returned to a position at the North American Rockwell Science Center in Thousand Oaks, California as a member of the technical staff. After five years he departed to academia as a full Professor at the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and within a few years was lecturing in the Dutch language.

In Amsterdam he developed an active research group working in the forefront of condensed matter physics at ultra-low temperatures and ultra high pressures. His research group stabilized the first Bose gas, spin-polarized atomic hydrogen, which eventually led to Bose-Einstein Condensation, now a major field in physics. He also started a long-time quest to convert solid molecular hydrogen into a metal under enormous pressure of millions of atmospheres. For these developments Professor Silvera was awarded the Hewlett Packard Europhysics Prize. At Harvard University he continues his activities in teaching and supervising graduate student research at low temperature and ultra-high pressures on quantum solids, research supported by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and NASA. He has taught at the College de France in Paris and is a foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. His favorite pastime is alpine skiing on challenging slopes.

In 2006, at the request of the Vietnamese government, he served on a team of the National Academies of the United States to advise on enhancing higher education in science and engineering in the Vietnamese Universities. Prior to joining the board, where he now serves as treasurer, he visited Vietnam several times to aid in selection of scholars supported by the VEF for studies in the US, and has lectured throughout Vietnam on advanced subjects in physics.