1998 Jury Member

The Rolex Awards for Enterprise

Location: Japan

Leo Esaki
Japan, Born 1925

Dr Leo Esaki was named after Leonardo da Vinci and, like his namesake, he has pursued a breadth of interests — from science to education.


An eminent physicist, Esaki is chairman of the Science and Technology Promotion Foundation, a body created by the Ibaraki prefecture and private corporations for the advancement of science in Japan and internationally.

Esaki recently retired as president of the University of Tsukuba, a post he held for six years. The first non-faculty member to hold that prestigious position, Esaki has played a key role reforming the Japanese education system. For Esaki, the nature of education is one of the most critical issues facing society, and his belief that students should follow their dreams and develop their ideas while they are still young mirrors his own life experience. At age 32, he made his greatest scientific discovery, the first quantum electron device, now known as the “Esaki-diode”. In 1973 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in recognition of this ground-breaking work.

After years of conducting pioneering research for some of the world’s most influential technology corporations, Esaki currently holds several directorships and serves on numerous international scientific advisory boards and committees, including the International Council of Scientific Unions and the Kanagawa Academy of Science and Technology.

Other 1998 Jury Members