Albion Lawrence, Ph.D.

Professor and Department Chair, Brandeis UniversityAlbion Lawrence’s website
Albion Lawrence headshot

Albion Lawrence is a professor of physics at Brandeis University. He received his bachelor’s degree in physics at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1991, and his Ph.D. in physics in 1996 from The University of Chicago, where he did research on string theory and black holes. Lawrence was a postdoctoral researcher at Harvard University from 1996–1999, a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in the fall of 1999, and was then a postdoctoral researcher at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center and at Stanford University from 1999–2002. In 2002 Lawrence joined the faculty of the Physics Department at Brandeis as assistant professor of physics. He was promoted to associate professor (with tenure) in 2009, and to professor in 2017. He served as department chair from 2018–2021.

Lawrence has worked on a broad range of topics in string theory, quantum gravity, quantum field theory and cosmology. He has done foundational research in holographic duality, in the mathematics of string compactifications and in the interplay between string theory and observational cosmology. He has recently begun doing research in physical oceanography and in geophysical fluid dynamics.


Higher-order statistics of geostrophic turbulence and internal waves

Albion Lawrence’s training and current field of study is in theoretical high energy physics and cosmology. Recently he has become excited by the prospects in the study of the Earth’s ocean, atmosphere and cryosphere for addressing foundational questions in complex dynamical systems and nonequilibrium statistical physics. His goal for the Simons Foundation Pivot Fellowship is to establish a research program in physical oceanography, rooted in observation and making use of tools and concepts from his background in theoretical physics. The specific project proposed with Lawrence’s mentor, Jörn Callies of the California Institute of Technology, is to begin the study of higher-order statistics of ocean turbulence and of internal waves via satellite altimetry. This will deepen our understanding of the nature of ocean turbulence and the internal wave field across scales and give us tools to disentangle different types of ocean dynamics which have very different properties with respect to the transport of important physical properties, chemical substances and biological organisms.

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