Man earns Ph.D. and fulfills his dream of becoming a physicist — at 89

Manfred Steiner
Posted at 3:45 PM, Nov 11, 2021

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — An 89-year-old man in Rhode Island has earned his Ph.D. and become a physicist after working toward it for two decades and thinking about it for a lifetime.

Manfred Steiner recently successfully defended his dissertation at Brown University in Providence.

Steiner cherishes the degree because it’s what he always wanted, and he overcame health issues that could have easily derailed his studies.

Steiner was a teenager in Vienna when he became inspired to become a physicist after reading about Albert Einstein and Max Planck. But he followed his family's advice to study medicine and ended up earning a medical doctorate in 1955, as well as a Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1976.

Decades later, Steiner began taking undergraduate physics classes at Brown in 2000 after he retired.

He didn’t consciously set out to earn his third doctoral degree when he began his studies at the Ivy League school. But by the spring of 2007, Brown says he had completed enough classes to be admitted to the graduate school as a Ph.D. degree candidate in physics.

After admission to the Ph.D. program, Steiner continued his coursework at the graduate level, and he has now completed all requirements for a Ph.D. in physics.

But even with his degrees and a distinguished career in medicine behind him, Brown says Steiner is not prepared to rest on his laurels. He’s currently reworking part of his dissertation for publication and plans to continue his theoretical physics work, according to the school.