Ask Abe: Nobel Prizes

An Alum

How many UW alumni or faculty members have earned Nobel Prizes?


The first Nobel Prize was awarded in 1901. Since then, of the 579 total prizes bestowed, 19 were awarded to UW alumni or faculty. That puts us at 34th in the world for universities with the most Nobel Prize recipients! The first Nobel awarded to a Badger (actually, two Badgers) was the 1944 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, which went to former UW professor Joseph Erlanger and Herbert Gasser 1910 “for their discoveries relating to the highly differentiated functions of single nerve fibres [sic].” The Physiology or Medicine category is the most popular for Badger award recipients: nine of the 19 were in this category. Another five prizes were given for physics, three for chemistry, one for literature, and one for economics. The most recent Badger to earn a Nobel Prize was William Campbell MA’54, PhD’57, who shared half of the 2015 Nobel Prize in (you guessed it) Physiology or Medicine for the discovery of a drug that fights tropical diseases.