Addis Ababa University Professor Receives 2012 Andrei Sakharov Prize

Mulugeta Bekele is an associate Professor of Physics at Addis Ababa University. (Photo credit: UC Santa Barbara, Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics)

Tadias Magazine

By Tadias Staff

Published: Monday, March 5, 2012

New York (TADIAS) – Mulugeta Bekele, an associate professor of physics at Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, has been awarded the 2012 Andrei Sakharov Prize by The American Physical Society (APS). The prize was established to recognize and encourage outstanding leadership and achievements of scientists in upholding human rights. The citation that appears on the prize certificate reads as follows:

“For tireless efforts in defense of human rights and freedom of expression and education anywhere in the world, and for inspiring students, colleagues and others to do the same.”

The prize was presented at the APS March 2012 meeting in Boston and was shared with Professor Richard Wilson of Harvard University.

Professor Mulugeta completed his undergraduate studies in physics at Addis Ababa University and at Union College, Schenectady, NY, graduating in 1970. He was employed as a graduate assistant during the year 1970/71 at HSIU. He then went to the University of Maryland, College Park, MD for his graduate studies for two years and received his masters degree in 1973. Mulugeta returned to Ethiopia immediately after graduation and became a Lecturer at AAU, then HSIU. After the Ethiopian revolution, which took place in 1974 when the Emperor was removed and a military government came to power, Mulugeta was put in prison by the government for seven years. After prison, he re-joined the physics department at university and continued teaching for six years before going abroad to India to pursue a PhD at Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore. Returning to AAU in 1997 Dr. Mulugeta has since worked with a research group involved in polymer and biological physics that has been getting support from Swedish International Science Programme. He is a founding member of the Ethiopian Physical Society and currently serving as the society’s President.

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24 Responses to “Addis Ababa University Professor Receives 2012 Andrei Sakharov Prize”

  1. 1 Yordanos Mar 5th, 2012 at 3:48 am

    This is wonderful recognition for a great researcher and outstanding educator, and a good man!

  2. 2 Dejenie A. Lakew Mar 5th, 2012 at 11:37 am

    Congratulations Dr. Mulugeta Bekele! A well deserved recognition from such an international professional society that promotes not only academia but provides a support to those who fight for human rights, dignity and development of democratic ideals and practices in governance across the globe.

    The prize indicates the unity of scholars and their associations in fighting for such matters in a global scale and a recognition that human rights and dignity matter for modern and contemporary society.

    I also thank The American Physical Society (APS) for doing such a wonderful thing.

    Dejenie A. Lakew (PhD)

  3. 3 Aman Mar 5th, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Congratulations Professor Mulugeta! Well deserved.

  4. 4 Alula Aba Nega Mar 5th, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Well, conguratulations! FOR THOSE WE DO NOT KNOW HIM, it will be good to mention some of his concrete achievements, thanks!

  5. 5 bob Mar 5th, 2012 at 9:50 pm

    Congratulations Professor Mulugeta! Well deserved.

  6. 6 Fesseha Mar 5th, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    Wonderful article about Prof. Mulugeta. My first Physics Prof@ AAU years ago. Quiet, an assuming; smart; unpretentious and all around good person….

    Good Job ! goes to Tadias for this and similar articles…

  7. 7 Fitsumbirhan Mar 6th, 2012 at 12:32 am

    Congratulation Dr. Mulegeta, it is your long years dedication , hard work and affection of your students that leads to you this great honor. I am very proud of being your student and deserves more than this achievement.

  8. 8 Addis Mar 6th, 2012 at 1:19 am

    Congratulations ,This is not the final prize u deserve but it is a step to encourage your determination and affection for research. Don’t give up , keep it up Dr. Mule.

  9. 9 Melaku Kebede Mar 6th, 2012 at 3:46 am

    Dr. Muluei,
    I am very much happy hearing this very interesting news. You deserve that!! I always remember your humble behaviour, motivation and knowledge that you showed us when I attend my Major Physics class (1985/86 to 1989). CONGRATULATION!!!

  10. 10 Mesfin Mar 6th, 2012 at 10:40 am

    I was in prison with you during those horrible and dark days. It is good to be alive after all those years and witness this recognition. We must always thank the creator for giving us second chnaces in life. Congratulations! May you and all of us be blessed with many more years good news like this! Thank you!

  11. 11 Happy Mar 6th, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    He played a key role in creating the PhD program in AAU. Mentored 20 undergraduates, 60 M.Sc. and one PhD students in the areas of biophysics, dislocation dynamics and activated processes, vacancy diffusion in binary alloys, and molecular motors. His research is internationally supported by the International Program in Physical Sciences (IPPS) at Uppsala University, Sweden,and the International Center for Theoretical Physics (ICTP)]] at Trieste, Italy. For his tireless efforts in defense of human rights and freedom of expression and education anywhere in the world, and for inspiring students, colleagues and others to do the same, he is being awarded the Andrei Sakharov Prize. Which will be presented at the APS March 2012 meeting in Boston, MA, February 27-March 2, 2012, at a special Ceremonial session. Dr. Mulugeta is the first African Physicist to receive such an honor.

    After the monarchy in Ethiopia was overthrown by a military regime – During this time, Mulugeta participated in the revolutions during the monarchical oligarchy, and post that against the military oligarchy. For his part in organizing the democratic movement, Bekele was thrown into prison (during the Mengistu’s regime), at first for nine months in 1978, and then for the six years from 1979 to 1985, where he suffered torture and deprivation at the hands of the brutal regime. After his release from prison in 1987 at the age of 39, he went back to teach at AAU.In 1991, he joined the Indian Institute of Science at Bangalore,India and completed his Ph.D degree in Physics.In 1998,he earned the position of a Senor in Associate Membership of ICTP for six years.He was an elegant teacher who always brought in fresh perspective to everything.He is also one of the founding members of the Ethiopian Physical Society, and served for four years as its president.

  12. 12 Lee Mar 6th, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Amazing. Inspiring story. Congratulations prof!

  13. 13 Seyoum Mar 6th, 2012 at 11:28 pm

    Congratulation Dr. Mulegeta, I witness that every physics student likes you, whom you taught or not. You deserve this. Congratulation!

  14. 14 Tebarek Mar 6th, 2012 at 11:58 pm


  15. 15 ImruZelleke Mar 7th, 2012 at 4:55 am

    Congratulations and the very best wishes to Professor Mulugeta for a well deserved prize.

  16. 16 Berhanu Tulu Mar 7th, 2012 at 9:36 am

    Congratulation Prof. Mulugeta,I am very much happy to hear this good news.I am very proud of being your student and you deserves more than this achievement.

  17. 17 Reason Mar 9th, 2012 at 2:48 am

    Thumbs up Mule… I know you deserve more . But your pesonality and your nature are your worthiest prizes.

  18. 18 Seid Abdella Mar 11th, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Its good to here you recognized.I know many of your students like me as i was a former one think high of you.You are a great hero.When the dust settles,i know you are a compassionate
    and generous individual.

  19. 19 TTT Mar 23rd, 2012 at 6:53 am

    Well deserved!
    How is the current condition of human rights in Ethiopia?

  20. 20 Ras Mar 23rd, 2012 at 11:50 am

    @ttt the current condition of human rights in Ethiopia is not good.

  21. 21 Aba Dula Mar 23rd, 2012 at 11:50 am

    Congrats Prof!

  22. 22 Aba Dula Mar 23rd, 2012 at 11:51 am

    I know Professor Mulugeta Bekele personally. He is a great man and he deserves it! Congratulations!

  23. 23 rekik Mar 23rd, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    This man is truly a great one!!! And the fact that he got even a little of what he desereves is amazing!!! There are a lot of such great people in our country that haven’t even been discovered and are left to rot. Let us just hope that one day, somehow, we do what is right!!!!!!With our lives and our COUNTRY………..

  24. 24 Tamirat Abebe May 10th, 2012 at 3:37 am

    Congratulations and the very best wishes to Professor Mulugeta for a well deserved prize.

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