Tribute to Nicola N. Khuri (1933 – 2022)

IHES was sorry to learn that Nicola N. Khuri, brilliant scientist and dear friend to the Institute, passed away on August 4th, 2022, aged 89.

A physicist with broad interests, Nicola Khuri succeeded in building the mathematical foundation of potential scattering theory, which allows investigation of how waves and particles deviate from their standard trajectories in response to collisions or other outside forces. His results (in particular with Kinoshita and with A. Martin) have suggested experiments at the large particle accelerators at CERN. Having an in-depth understanding of physical theories, Nicola was also deeply immersed in examining the general mathematical properties of quantum field theories.

Born in 1933 in Beirut, Lebanon, Nicola received his Ph.D. from Princeton University and continued on with fellowships there for a few years. There, he met Louis Michel, who later became the first permanent professor in physics at IHES. Later, Nicola taught at his undergraduate alma mater, the American University of Beirut, followed by the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, and Columbia University. Though he held visiting professorships at countless esteemed universities, he never left Rockefeller after joining its community in 1964 as an associate professor, becoming full professor in 1968, a position he held until his retirement, at which time he became professor emeritus.

Nicola worked with several professors at IHES, including Henri Epstein, David Ruelle and Thibault Damour, who became his friends. He importantly helped IHES in its efforts to create an endowment, developing a very close relation with Jean-Pierre Bourguignon, during his directorship.

Read here Nicolas Khuri’s recollection of IHES published in the book “Le Petit Mémorial pour les 40 ans de l’IHÉS“, written for the IHES 40th anniversary.

More on his biography on Rockefeller University’s website here.