Jens Rud Nielsen

Class of
Jens Rud Nielsen

Jens Rud Nielsen

“Looking back over the 50 years since Nielsen first exchanged his beloved Denmark for America, and then California for Oklahoma, the outstanding virtue he has displayed is allegiance, adoption, and commitment. His striving for research excellence was against nearly insurmountable odds.”
Richard D. Fowler


Jens Rud Nielsen was born in Denmark and entered the University of Copenhagen and received his first M.S. in 1919 after mastering studies in physics, mathematics, astronomy, and chemistry with honors. In 1922, after teaching at Denmark’s Technical University, he came to the California Institute of Technology on an American-Scandinavian Foundation Fellowship. In 1924, after teaching at Humbolt State College (now Humboldt State University) in California and earning his Ph.D. at the California Institute of Technology, he came to Oklahoma where he set up an extensive research program and introduced the first real courses in theoretical physics. After World War II, Dr. Nielsen returned to research in pure physics, his work supported by grants from the Atomic Energy Commission, Office of Naval Research, and the National Science Foundation. On his retirement in 1965, the physics building at OU was re-named in his honor.

Fun fact

A former student of Danish physicist and Nobel Prize Winner Niels Bohr, Nielsen spent the years following his retirement editing Bohr’s memoirs. Four of the volumes were published. Nielsen was working on the fifth volume at the time of his death.

Oklahoma connections

Nielsen came to the University of Oklahoma as a professor of Physics in 1924.








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