Clifton Memorial Prize

The Clifton Memorial Prize is an annual award given to a graduate student working in the philosophy of physics in honour of Robert K. Clifton.

Robert K. Clifton (1964–2002)

Rob Clifton did graduate work at Western Ontario before studying for a PhD at the University of Cambridge. After doing post-doctoral research at Christ’s College, he returned to Western Ontario in 1993 as Professor and left again in 1997 for the University of Pittsburgh.

Rob was prolific. In a fourteen year period he wrote 51 articles, 23 book reviews and encyclopaedia entries, and edited a book, Perspectives on Quantum Reality, based on the on Contemporary Issues in the Foundations of Physics conference held at Western Ontario in 1994, published in Kluwer’s University of Western Ontario Studies in Philosophy of Science series.

Rob wrote on a variety of topics in the philosophy of science, but most of his contributions concerned non-locality in quantum mechanics, modal interpretations of quantum theory, and foundational issues in algebraic quantum field theory.

In 2004, Oxford University Press celebrated Rob’s work with a collection of his essays, Quantum Entanglements, edited by his former doctoral student, Hans Halvorson, and his former colleague, Jeremy Butterfield. This book is given to the graduate student with the top paper in philosophy of physics presented at the LMP.


The Nineteenth Annual Clifton Memorial Prize 2023:
Brett Park (University of Pittsburgh)
Causation Beyond Manipulation

The Eighteenth Annual Clifton Memorial Prize 2022:
Eugene Chua (University of California, San Diego )
T Falls Apart: On the Status of Classical Temperature in Relativity

The Seventeenth Annual Clifton Memorial Prize 2021:
Bixin Guo (University of Pittsburgh )
Ontology-first vs. Theory-first Approach to Reduction: A Case Study from Statistical Mechanics

The Sixteenth Annual Clifton Memorial Prize 2019:
Helen Meskhidze (University of California, Irvine )
The explanatory and methodological roles of new simulation methods in cosmology

The Fifteenth Annual Clifton Memorial Prize 2018:
James Read (Oxford University)
On miracles and spacetime

The Fourteenth Annual Clifton Memorial Prize 2017:
Mike Schneider (University of California, Irvine)
What’s the problem with the cosmological constant?

The Thirteenth Annual Clifton Memorial Prize 2016:
Neil Dewar (Oxford University)
Maxwell-Cartan Gravitation

The Twelfth Annual Clifton Memorial Prize 2015:
Michael Miller (University of Pittsburgh)
The Underdetermination of Field Theoretic Structure

The Eleventh Annual Clifton Memorial Prize 2014:
James Fraser (Leeds University)
Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking in Finite Systems

The Tenth Annual Clifton Memorial Prize 2013:
Thomas Barrett (Princeton University)
On the Structure of Classical Mechanics

The Ninth Annual Clifton Memorial Prize 2012:
Matthew Gorski (Notre Dame University)
Semiclassical Electromagnetism and Contact Locality: A Case of Premature Metaphysics

The Eighth Annual Clifton Memorial Prize 2011:
James Owen Weatherall (University of California, Irvine)
The Status of the Geodesic Principle

The Seventh Annual Clifton Memorial Prize 2010:
Bryan Roberts (University of Pittsburgh)
Time Reversal and the Symmetry of Nothing

The Sixth Annual Clifton Memorial Prize 2009:
Samuel C. Fletcher (University of California, Irvine)
A Stop on the Hard Road to Determinism: Cases from Classical Mechanics

The Fifth Annual Clifton Memorial Prize 2008:
Tracy Lupher (University of Texas, Austin)
Physical Equivalence and Classical Equivalence, In Algebraic Quantum Field Theory

The Fourth Annual Clifton Memorial Prize 2006:
John Manchak (University of California, Irvine)
Observational Indistinguishability and Geodesic Incompleteness

The Third Annual Clifton Memorial Prize 2005:
Mike Tamir (University of Pittsburgh)
Explanation Without Reification

The Second Annual Clifton Memorial Prize 2004:
David John Baker (Princeton University)
Lingering Problems with Probability in Many-Worlds Quantum Mechanics

The First Annual Clifton Memorial Prize 2003:
Doreen Fraser (University of Pittsburgh)
The Third Law in Newton’s Waste Book (Or, The Road Less Taken to the Second Law)
Fraser’s paper also won The Richard Hadden Award for the best student paper at the annual Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Science meeting in 2003.