Sidney Drell
Born(1926-09-13)September 13, 1926
DiedDecember 21, 2016(2016-12-21) (aged 90)
Alma materUniversity of Illinois
Known forDrell–Yan process
AwardsE. O. Lawrence Award (1972)
Pomeranchuk Prize (1998)
Enrico Fermi Award (2000)
Heinz Award for Public Policy (2005)
National Medal of Science (2011)
Scientific career
InstitutionsStanford Linear Accelerator Center
ThesisPart I Magnetic internal conversion coefficient Part II Electrostatic scattering of neutrons Part III Anomalous magnetic moments of nucleons (1949)
Doctoral advisorSidney Dancoff
Doctoral studentsJames Bjorken
Steven Frautschi
Roscoe Giles
Robert Jaffe
Heinz Pagels
Joel Primack

Sidney David Drell (September 13, 1926 – December 21, 2016) was an American theoretical physicist and arms control expert.

At the time of his death, he was professor emeritus at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) and senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution. Drell was a noted contributor in the fields of quantum electrodynamics and high-energy particle physics. The Drell–Yan process is partially named for him.


Born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Drell graduated from Atlantic City High School.[1][2]

He earned his undergraduate degree in physics from Princeton University in 1946, having been admitted at the age of 16.[1] He was awarded a masters in physics in 1947 and received his PhD from the University of Illinois in 1949. He co-authored the textbooks Relativistic Quantum Mechanics and Relativistic Quantum Fields with James Bjorken. Drell was active as a scientific advisor to the U.S. government, and was a founding member of the JASON Defense Advisory Group. He was also on the board of directors of Los Alamos National Security, the company that operates the Los Alamos National Laboratory. He was an expert in the field of nuclear arms control and cofounder of the Center for International Security and Arms Control, now the Center for International Security and Cooperation. He was a Senior Fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution and an accomplished violinist. He was a trustee Emeritus at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.

He was the father of Persis Drell, former head of SLAC national accelerator lab, former dean of the Stanford University School of Engineering, and now current provost of Stanford University; Joanna Drell, Professor of History and chair of the Department of History at the University of Richmond;[3] and Daniel Drell, a program officer at the U.S. Department of Energy. Sidney Drell died in December 2016 at his home in Palo Alto, California at the age of 90.[4]

Awards and honors


  1. ^ a b Grimes, William. "Sidney Drell, Who Advised Presidents on Nuclear Weapons, Dies at 90", The New York Times, December 22, 2016. Accessed December 22, 2016. "Sidney David Drell was born on Sept. 13, 1926, in Atlantic City, to Jewish immigrants from the Russian empire."
  2. ^ Aaserud, Finn (July 1, 1986). "Oral histories: Sidney Drell". American Institute of Physics. Retrieved 2022-02-02.
  3. ^ "Joanna Drell - History - University of Richmond".
  4. ^ "Sidney Drell, theoretical physicist and national security expert at Stanford, dies at 90". Stanford University. 22 December 2016. Retrieved 2022-02-02.
  5. ^ "Drell, Sidney D." National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
  6. ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter D" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved June 3, 2011.
  7. ^ "APS Member History". Retrieved 2022-05-09.
  8. ^ The Heinz Awards, Sidney Drell profile