Polish Nobel Prize Laureates

Maria Sklodowska-Curie
Maria Sklodowska-Curie

Here I list 25 Nobel Laureates of Polish descent or born on former and present-day Polish land. Those with a * next to the award year are Jewish.

Of these 25 Laureates, more than half (13) are Jews.

Of the ten USA Nobel Prize winners of Polish descent, nine were immigrants (Only Frank Wilczek was born in America). Seven of those nine are Jewish. Proof that America's great scientific advances can be traced to immigrant and Jewish roots.

Physics (8)

YearLaureateAward Country
1903Maria Sklodowska-CurieFrance
1907*Albert Abraham MichelsonUSA
1944*Isidor Isaac RabiUSA
1963*Maria Goeppert-MayerUSA
1978Pyotr Leonidovich KapitsaU.S.S.R.
1985Klaus von KlitzingWest Germany
1992*Georges CharpakFrance
2004Frank WilczekUSA

Chemistry (3)

YearLaureateAward Country
1911Maria Sklodowska-CuriePoland
1920Walther Hermann NernstGermany
1981*Roald HoffmannUSA

Physiology or Medicine (3)

YearLaureateAward Country
1950*Tadeus ReichsteinSwitzerland
1977*Andrew V. SchallyUSA
1999Günter BlobelUSA

Literature (7)

YearLaureateAward Country
1905Henryk SienkiewiczPoland
1924Wladyslaw Stanislaw ReymontPoland
1966*Shmuel Yosef AgnonIsrael
1978*Isaac Bashevis SingerUSA
1980Czeslaw MiloszPoland and USA
1996Wislawa SzymborskaPoland
1999Günter GrassGermany

Peace (4)

YearLaureateAward Country
1978*Menachem BeginIsrael
1983Lech WalesaPoland
1994*Shimon PeresIsrael
1995*Sir Józef RotblatUnited Kingdom

Economics (1)

YearLaureateAward Country
2007*Leonid HurwiczUSA


Maria Sklodowska-Curie:

Wiki, Biography

(November 7, 1867 – July 4, 1934) was a physicist and chemist of Polish upbringing and, subsequently, French citizenship. She was a pioneer in the field of radioactivity, the first person honored with two Nobel Prizes,[1] and the first female professor at the University of Paris.

She was born Maria Skłodowska in Warsaw (then Vistula Country, Russian Empire; now Poland) and lived there until she was 24.

Albert Abraham Michelson:

Wiki, Bio

Michelson was born in Strzelno, Provinz Posen in the Kingdom of Prussia (now Poland) into a Jewish family. He moved to the United States with his parents in 1855, when he was two years old. He grew up in the rough mining towns of Murphy's Camp, California and Virginia City, Nevada, where his father was a merchant. He spent his high school years in San Francisco in the home of his aunt, Henriette Levy (née Michelson), who was the mother of author Harriet Lane Levy.

Isidor Isaac Rabi:

Wiki, Biography

Rabi was born into a traditional Jewish family in Rymanów, Galicia , Austrian Empire (now Poland), and was brought to the United States as a child the following year. He achieved a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry degree from Cornell University in 1919, continuing his studies at Columbia University and received his Ph.D. in 1927. A fellowship enabled him to spend the next two years in Europe working with such eminent physicists as Niels Bohr, Werner Heisenberg, Wolfgang Pauli and Otto Stern. He then joined the Columbia faculty and never left.

Maria Goeppert-Mayer:

Wiki, Biography

Maria Goeppert was born in Kattowitz (today: Katowice, Poland), within the German Empire's Prussian Province of Silesia. Her family moved to Göttingen in 1910 when her father Friedrich was appointed Professor of Pediatrics at the town's university. On her father's side, Goeppert-Mayer was a seventh generation professor. From a young age, she was surrounded by the students and lecturers from the university, intellectuals including future Nobel winners, Enrico Fermi, Werner Heisenberg, Paul Dirac, and Wolfgang Pauli.

Pyotr Leonidovich Kapitsa:

Wiki, Biography

Kapitsa was born of Polish parents in the city of Kronstadt and graduated from the Petrograd Polytechnical Institute in 1918. He worked for over ten years with Ernest Rutherford in the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge.

Klaus von Klitzing:

Wiki, Biography

Klaus von Klitzing, born June 28, 1943 in Schroda (Środa Wielkopolska )


The Von Klitzing constant, RK = h / e2 = 25812.807449(86)Ω, is named in honor of Klitzing's discovery of the Quantum Hall Effect. The constant is listed on The National Institute of Standards and Technology Reference on Constants, Units, and Uncertainty. The constant gives the inverse value of one quantum of electrical conductance.

Georges Charpak:

Wiki, Biography

Charpak was born in the village of Dąbrowica in Poland (modern Dubrovytsia, Ukraine) to a Jewish family of Polish origin as Jerzy Charpak. Charpak's family moved from Poland to Paris when he was seven years old.

During World War II Charpak served in the resistance and was imprisoned by Vichy authorities in 1943. In 1944 he was deported to the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau, where he remained until the camp was liberated in 1945. After graduating from the Lycée Joffre in Montpellier, in 1945 he joined the Paris-based École des Mines, one of the most prestigious engineering schools in France. The following year he became a naturalized French citizen.

Frank Wilczek:

Wiki, Biography

Born in Mineola, New York, of Polish and Italian origin, Wilczek was educated in the public schools of Queens, attending Martin Van Buren High School.

Walther Hermann Nernst:

Wiki, Biography

Nernst was born in Briesen in West Prussia (now Wąbrzeźno, Poland) as son of Gustav Nernst, who was a district judge. Nernst went to elementary school at Graudentz. His mother is said to have been Polish by the Polish newsmagazine wprost.[1] He studied physics and mathematics at the universities of Zürich, Berlin, Graz and Wuerzburg, where he graduated in 1887.

Roald Hoffmann:

Wiki, Biography

Hoffmann was born in Złoczów, Poland (now Ukraine) to a Jewish family and was named in honor of the Norwegian explorer, Roald Amundsen. He and his mother were among the only members of his immediate family to survive the Holocaust with the help from his Ukrainian neighbors, an experience which strongly influenced his beliefs and work. (A grandmother and several aunts, uncles, and cousins also survived.) They immigrated to the United States in 1949. In 2009, a monument to Holocaust victims was built in Zolochiv on the initiative of Hoffmann.

Tadeus Reichstein:

Wiki, Biography

Reichstein was born into a Jewish family at Włocławek, Congress Poland, and spent his early childhood at Kiev, where his father was an engineer. He began his education a boarding-school at Jena, Germany.

Andrew V. Schally:

Wiki, Biography

Schally was born in Wilno, Second Polish Republic (now Vilnius, Lithuania), as the son of Gen. Brigadier Kazimierz Schally who was Chief of the Cabinet of President Ignacy Mościcki of Poland. Schally received his education in Scotland and England. In 1952, he moved to Canada. He received his doctorate in endocrinology from McGill University in 1957. That same year he left for a research career in the United States where he has worked principally at Tulane University.

Günter Blobel:

Wiki, Biography

Blobel was born in Waltersdorf in the Prussian Province of Lower Silesia. In January 1945 his family fled from native Silesia from the advancing Red Army.

Henryk Sienkiewicz:

Culture.pl, Biography

Henryk Sienkiewicz (pseudonym Litwos), writer and essayist, born on May 5, 1846 in Wola Okrzejska, died on November 15, 1916 in Vevey, Switzerland

The son of an impoverished landowner, Sienkiewicz attended a Warsaw gymnasium prior to studying at the Main School from 1866-69.

Wladyslaw Stanislaw Reymont:

Culture.pl, Biography

Władysław Stanisław Reymont - novelist, short story writer, journalist. Born 7th May 1867 in the village of Kobiele Wielkie in Nowodworski County near Radom, he died 5 December 1925 in Warsaw.

Shmuel Yosef Agnon:

Wiki, Biography

Agnon was born in Galicia, later immigrated to the British mandate of Palestine, and died in Jerusalem. His works deal with the conflict between the traditional Jewish life and language and the modern world.

Isaac Bashevis Singer:

Wiki, Biography

Isaac Bashevis Singer was born in 1902 in Leoncin village near Warsaw, Poland, then part of the Russian Empire.


His father was a Hasidic rabbi and his mother, Bathsheba, was the daughter of the rabbi of Biłgoraj.

Czeslaw Milosz:

Culture.pl, Biography

Poet, novelist, essayist and translator. Winner of the 1980 Nobel Prize for Literature. Born in Šeteniai (Polish: Szetejnie), Lithuania in 30/06/1911, died on the 14/08/2004 in Kraków.

Wislawa Szymborska:

Culture.pl, Biography

Poet and essayist, awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1996. Born on the 2nd of July 1923 in Bnin near Poznań (according to her birth certificate, though family lore names Kórnik, the adjacent town). Prominent citizen of Kraków, she died there on the 1st of February 2012.

Günter Grass:

Wiki, Biography

Günter Wilhelm Grass (born 16 October 1927) was born in the Free City of Danzig (now Gdańsk, Poland). In 1945, he came as a refugee to West Germany, but in his fiction he frequently returns to the Danzig of his childhood.

Menachem Begin:

Wiki, Biography

Menachem Begin was born to Zeev Dov and Hassia Begun in Brest-Litovsk, (Brisk), a town then part of the Russian Empire which was known for its Talmudic scholars. He was the youngest of three children. [3] On his mother's side he was descended from distinguished rabbis. His father, a timber merchant, was a community leader, a passionate Zionist, and an admirer of Theodor Herzl.

Lech Walesa :

Wiki, Biography

Wałęsa was born in Popowo, Poland, on 29 September 1943, to a carpenter and his wife.

Shimon Peres:

Wiki, Biography

Born in Wiszniewo, in Poland (now Belarus) in 1923, Peres moved with his family to Mandatory Palestine in 1934.

Sir Józef Rotblat:

Wiki, Biography

Joseph Rotblat was born to a Jewish family in Warsaw, Poland on November 4 1908 one of seven children (two not surviving child birth).


Early in 1944 Rotblat went with James Chadwick's group to work on the Manhattan Project to build the first atomic bombs.

Leonid Hurwicz:

Wiki, Biography

Hurwicz was born in Moscow, Russia to a Jewish family a few months before the October Revolution. The family had originated in Poland and had lived in Congress Kingdom (the part of Poland then within the Russian Empire) but had been displaced by World War I.

See also, Leonid Hurwicz and His Nobel of Many Colors.

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