Giacinto Scoles was born in Torino, Italy, on April 2, 1935. He began university studies at the University of Genoa, working in engineering. After two years, he switched to chemistry and finished his M.Sc. In physics. He then joined the University of Leiden in the Netherlands for his Ph.D. where he began work with intermolecular forces, a subject that has been transformed by Scoles’ research. Here, he set up the first of four molecular beam scattering laboratories. His work here also led to the development of the bolometer detector, which enabled the first observation of “rainbow scattering.”
After completing his Ph.D., Scoles accepted a position at the University of Waterloo in Canada in 1970. There, he set up another molecular beam scattering lab and continued his research. In 1987, he became the Donner Professor of Science at Princeton University, where he remains today. Other professional activities include establishing the experimental physics laboratory at the University of Trento in Italy, co-founding the Guelph-Waterloo Center for Graduate Work in Chemistry, leading the establishment of the Princeton Materials institute, and serving as editor of Atomic and molecular Beam Methods.
He is the holder of two honorary doctorates (one in physics and the other in science), is an elected Fellow of the Royal Society of the United Kingdom, and an elected foreign member of the Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences of the Netherlands. He is the recipient of the 2002 Peter Debye Award in Physical Chemistry of the American Chemical Society, the 2003 Earle K. Plyler Award in Molecular Spectroscopy of the American Physical Society (jointly with Kevin Lehmann), OSA’s Lippincott Award, and in 2006 was awarded the prestigious Franklin Medal in Physics by the Franklin Institute. Scoles also holds two appointments in his native Italy, as a professor of biophysics at SISSA, and as a scientific consultant at ELETTRA in Trieste. He is a Fellow of OSA.