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Nuclear Physics


Cécile DeWitt-Morette

Additional Information

Some Important Contributions

To education and the profession:

Creation of the Les Houches Summer School which was very influential in Europe and in several developing countries in the post-WWII period. The objective was to close the gap that separated a French science student from the world of research. It is now a prestigious advanced school for active research scientists from all over the world, The Les Houches School of Physics. There are many volumes of published lectures, the Les Houches series, which are valuable references in their fields.

To mathematical physics:

Studies of path integrals which introduced the Cecile Morette-Dewitt - VanVleck determinant and the semiclassical expansion of the functional integral.
  • "On the definition and approximation of Feynman's path integral," Phys. Rev. 81: 848-852 (1951).

Work in topologically nontrivial spaces which was the first step in the now active field of research on the interplay of topology and path integration. Noted that in two space dimensions there can exist particle of intermediate statistics, now called "anyons".

  • "Feynman Functional Integrals for Systems of Indistinguishable Particles," Phys. Rev. D3: 1375-1378 (1971), with M.G.G. Laidlaw.

Investigation of the uses of two Pin groups (rather than the Spin group) in studying properties of fermions under parity and time reversal transformations.

  • "Pin groups in Physics," Physical Review D41: 1901-1907 (1990), with B. S. DeWitt.

Defined Feynman's integrals directly on function spaces, leading to new computational techniques.

  • "Path Integration in Non-Relativistic Quantum Mechanics," Physics Reports 50: 255-372 (1979), with A. Maheshwari and B. Nelson.

To education and mathematical physics:

Text in wide use for education and research.
  • Analysis, Manifolds and Physics. Amsterdam: North Holland Publishing Co., 1977 (Rev. ed. 2 volumes 1982), with Y. Choquet-Bruhat and Margaret Dillard-Bleick.


Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Mérite 1981
Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques 1991
Prix du Rayonnement Français 1992


1944-65 Stagiaire,.., Maitre de Recherches Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France
1946-47 Member, Institute for Advanced Studies, Dublin
1947-48 Rask-Oersted Fellow, Institut for Teoretisk Fysik, Copenhagen
1948-50 Member, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ
1951-52 Research Associate, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Bombay
1951-72 Founder and Director, l'École d'Été de Physique Théorique of the University of Grenoble at Les Houche (now known as l'École de Physique des Houches)
1952-55 Research Associate and Lecturer, University of California at Berkeley
1956-66 Co-founder and Co-director of the Institute of Field Physics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
1956-67 Visiting Research Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
1965-88 from Maitre de Conférences to Professeur en Classe Exceptionnelle, Université Joseph Fourier
1967-71 Lecturer, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
1957-66 Director of the Institute for Natural Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
1972-83 Professor of Astronomy, University of Texas at Austin
1983-93 Professor of Physics, University of Texas at Austin
1993-present Jane and Roland Blumberg Centennial Professor in Physics, University of Texas at Austin

DeWitt-Morette has held visiting professorships at Centro de Pesquisa Fisicas, Rio de Janeiro (1949); Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore (1977); Z.I.F. Universität Bielefeld (1984); Imperial College, London (1985); University of Warwick (1985); and Universidade da Madeira (1991)


Licence és Sciences University of Caen 1943
Doctorat d'Etat University of Paris 1947


Cécile DeWitt-Morette, [wcp1993bd], [4B AMWS]

Additional Information/Comments

DeWitt-Morette's husband, physicist Bryce DeWitt, wrote about his wife' career at the University of North Carolina [wcp1993bd] :
    "At the beginning, she and her husband both bore the title of visiting research professor. Within a few years her husband was given a regular professorship, and later, upon the death of Bahnson, he held a chair named after the latter. She herself was demoted in 1967 from visiting research professor to lecturer, despite the fact that she had played a crucial role in attracting money to the university, in organizing conferences on topic ranging from advanced research to high school administration, and in serving, from 1957-1966, as the director of the university's Institute of Natural Science. As the reason for this discrimination, the university cited nepotism rules, which in fact had never been published in the official regulation and were legally nonexistent."
In 1958, NATO's newly formed Science Committee used Les Houches as a model in their establishment of a program to support summer study institute in NATO countries. Les Houches was the first receipient of these NATO grants, which have by now been bestowed on more than a thousand advanced study institutes.

Additional professional activities:

With John A. Wheeler, organized the Rencontres between mathematician and physicists first held in 1967 and was Secretary of the Battelle Rencontre Committee, 1967-72.

NATO Scientific Affairs Division: Consultant, A.S.I., 1962-66.

Texas Eclipse Expedition Team to Mauritania: June 1972 and May-June 1973.

Associate Editor, Journal of Mathematical Physics 1977-80, 1993 - 1996.

Chairperson: American Institute of Physics Committee to Review Journal of Mathematical Physics 1991.

 1996-present Membre du Conseil d'Administration, Institut de Hautes Etudes Scientifiques (Bures/Yvette)

Some other activities:

Skydiving, judo (brown-belt level), trekking in remote areas, skiing, windsurfing, sewing and darning, editing (18) books, serving on countles committees, and working with mental health organizations.[C. DeWitt-Morette]

Field Editors: Stanley Deser/ Nina Byer

<deser@binah.cc.brandeis.edu> / <nbyers@physics.ucla.edu>

Original citer's name:

Elena Cacere

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latest revision {4/30/97 mjw} 3/16/01 nb