Dorfan was born in South Africa and received his first degree from the University of Cape Town, and his doctorate from the University of California at Irvine in 1976. He has spent most of his career at Stanford, most recently as leader of the B-factory project at SLAC.

Cesarsky was born in France in 1943. She received her first degree from the University of Buenos Aires in Argentina and her PhD from Harvard University in the US. Since 1994 she has been director of the materials science division of the French atomic energy agency and in charge of over 3000 scientists and engineers working on a variety of basic research problems in physics, astrophysics, chemistry and earth sciences. Cesarsky is currently vice-president of the International Astronomical Union.