Edwin Goldwasser, 97, a cofounder of Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and one of the world's most prominent physicists, died Wednesday.

The physics department at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus announced the death of Dr. Goldwasser, whose research helped explain nuclear force.

Dr. Goldwasser started at the university in 1951, realizing eventually that Midwestern universities could graduate more physicists if there was a high-flight research facility in the region. He was prominent enough to persuade President Lyndon B. Johnson to locate the lab in Illinois, not Wisconsin.

During the Cold War, Dr. Goldwasser persuaded President Richard M. Nixon to allow scientific exchanges with Soviet physicists. - AP