Sidney D. Drell

Senior Fellow, Emeritus
Research Team: 
Awards and Honors:
NNSA Administrator's Gold Medal of Excellence
Reykjavik Award
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
American Philosophical Society
National Academy of Sciences

Sidney D. Drell is an emeritus senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University and a professor of theoretical physics emeritus at Stanford’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory, where he served as deputy director until retiring in 1998. An arms control specialist, he has advised the executive and legislative branches of government on national security and technical defense issues for more than four decades. From 1983 to 1989, he was the founding codirector of Stanford’s Center for International Security and Arms Control.

Drell also served as a member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board and the President’s Science Advisory Committee. He chaired the Panel on Nuclear Weapons Safety of the House Armed Services Committee, the Technology Review Panel of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Senior Review Board of the Intelligence Community’s Technology Innovation Center.

In 2006 Drell, together with former secretary of state George P. Shultz, initiated a program at the Hoover Institution that would initiate steps toward a world free of nuclear weapons. Their latest coedited publication is The Nuclear Enterprise: High-Consequence Accidents: How to Enhance Safety and Minimize Risks in Nuclear Weapons and Reactors (Hoover Institution Press, 2012).

In recognition of his achievements, Drell has received numerous awards, including the National Medal of Science (2011); the Enrico Fermi Award, the nation's oldest award in science and technology; a fellowship from the MacArthur Foundation; the Heinz Award for contributions in public policy; the Rumford Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ and the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal. Drell was one of ten scientists honored as “founders of national reconnaissance as a space discipline” by the US National Reconnaissance Office. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society and was president of the American Physical Society in 1986.

Drell received his AB from Princeton University, his PhD from the University of Illinois in physics, and honorary degrees from the University of Illinois, the Weizmann Institute of Science, and the University of Tel Aviv.

His research papers are available at the Hoover Institution Archives.

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Recent Commentary


Imagining ‘A World Without Nuclear Weapons’

by George P. Shultz, James Goodby, Sidney D. Drell, Raymond Jeanlozvia The New York Times
Friday, April 15, 2016

“From Hiroshima to a Nuke-Free World” (editorial, April 13) underscored the need for “bolder action” than the Obama administration has been able to take in recent years to move toward its long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons, a vision that we share.

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Andrei Sakharov: The Conscience of Humanity

by George P. Shultz, Sidney D. Drellvia Books by Hoover Fellows
Monday, October 5, 2015

Andrei Sakharov holds an honored place in the pantheon of the world's greatest scientists, reformers, and champions of human rights.

Sidney Drell and Andrei Sakharov at Stanford, 1989
Analysis and Commentary

The Man Who Spoke Truth To Power

by Sidney D. Drell, Jim Hoagland, George P. Shultzvia Foreign Affairs
Thursday, June 25, 2015

In the decades since Mikhail Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan began working together to end the Cold War, much has changed.

Nuclear Security: The Problems and the Road Ahead by Secretary George Shultz

Nuclear Security: The Problems and the Road Ahead

by George P. Shultz, Sidney D. Drell, Henry A. Kissinger, Sam Nunnvia Hoover Press
Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Concern about the threat posed by nuclear weapons has preoccupied the United States and presidents of the United States since the beginning of the nuclear era.

The Nuclear Enterprise: High-Consequence Accidents: How to Enhance Safety and Mi

The Nuclear Enterprise: High-Consequence Accidents: How to Enhance Safety and Minimize Risks in Nuclear Weapons and Reactors

via Hoover Press
Thursday, October 4, 2012

Nuclear energy can provide great benefits to society; in the form of nuclear weapons, however, it can cause death and destruction on an unparalleled scale.

Nuclear bomb's tell-tale mushroom cloud

Reducing the Global Nuclear Risk

by Sidney D. Drell, George P. Shultz, Steven P. Andreasenvia Policy Review
Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sparing no effort to ensure safety and security. To listen to Sidney Drell and Tod Lindberg, click below.

War Plane
Analysis and Commentary

Modernize Open Skies

by George P. Shultz, Sidney D. Drellvia New York Times
Monday, March 26, 2012

Open Skies is an important foundation for addressing national security verification challenges of the coming decades. The United States should play a leadership role in strengthening both the technical and political aspects of cooperative aerial monitoring...

Deterrence: Its Past and Future

Deterrence: Its Past and Future — Papers Presented at Hoover Institution, November 2010

via Books by Hoover Fellows
Thursday, August 25, 2011

Drawn from the third in a series of conferences at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University on the nuclear legacy of the cold war, this report examines the importance of deterrence, from its critical function in the cold war to its current role. Although deterrence will not disappear, current and future threats to international security will present relatively fewer situations in which nuclear weapons will play the dominant role they did during the cold war.

Sidney D. Drell

2010 Max von Laue Lecture

by Sidney D. Drellvia Hoover Videos
Friday, July 9, 2010

Hoover senior fellow Sidney Drell gave the 2010 Max von Laue lecture "Working Toward a World Without Nuclear Weapons" at the annual meeting of the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (DPG, the society of physicists in Germany) in Bonn, Germany.