Tsung-Dao Lee – Chinese American Nobel Laureate

“A scientific accomplishment is always the accumulative result of many people working on the same or related fields.” Tsing-Dao Lee

Tsung-Dao Lee (李政道; pinyin: Lǐ Zhèngdào) is a Chinese American physicist and first Chinese born Nobel laureate. He shared his Nobel prize in physics with Frank Yang (Chen Ning Yang) in 1957 for their work on Non-Conservation of parity. They discovered violations of parity conservation in 1956, which was confirmed experimentally by Chien-Shiung Wu later in 1957. Wu was not selected for Nobel prize unfortunately, considered as a controversy in Nobel Committee.   

Lee and Yang were first Chinese Nobel Laureates. Lee is considered to be third youngest Nobel Laureates in science in the history, as he was awarded Nobel prize at the age of 30 years. As he became an American citizen later, he is also considered to be youngest American Nobel Laureate.

Lee was born in Shanghai, his ancestral hometown was nearby Suzhou, one of the most beautiful cities in China. He received his secondary education in Shanghai and Jiangxi but he couldn’t get his secondary diploma due to Sino-Japanese war. He was directly admitted to Zhejiang university in 1943 without a secondary diploma. Later in 1945, again due to war problems his studies were disrupted and he moved to National Southwestern Associated University at Kunming. In 1946, Lee went to University of Chicago for PhD under the supervision of professor Enrico Fermi.

Academic Achievements:

Lee has contributed in many significant scientific breakthroughs.  The very first academic work by Lee after joining Columbia University is known as Lee model. In 1956, he worked on Non-Conservation of parity with C. N. Yang, followed by experimental verification from a female colleague Chien-Shiung Wu.

In 1964, he contributed in establishing the Kinoshita–Lee–Nauenberg theorem or KLN theorem. Lee’s work is dominating the high energy nuclear physics.

 Lee, along with his wife established scholarship funds and after his wife’s death he established scholarship fund in her name. The Chun-Tsung scholarship is awarded at 6 different universities to the deserving selected students.


  • Nobel Prize in Physics – 1957
  • G. Bude Medal, Collège de France – 1966
  • Galileo Medal – 1979
  • G. Bude Medal, Collège de France – 1977
  • Oskar Klein Memorial Lecture and Medal – 1993
  • Science for peace prize – 1994
  • China National-International Cooperation Award – 1995
  • New York City Science Award – 1997
  • New York Academy of Science Award – 2000

Note: This article is a part of series of Asian Science Letter about history of Science in Asia. After the series of Asian Nobel prize winners, We’ll Introduce great Asian scientists of their times to promote science. Any suggestions or guest blogs are welcome.

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The opinions expressed in our published works are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions of Asian Science Letters or its Editors. Information contained in our published works have been obtained by Asian Science Letters from authors believed to be reliable in their field.

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