Amir Zaidi was born in Lahore, Punjab, India. Following Partition, Lahore became the capital of Punjab Province in Pakistan. Amir’s father and grandfather were photographers and active members of the Congress Party and the Indian Resistance Movement. Amir attended University of the Punjab, a leading university that counts among its graduates Abdus Salam, 1979 Nobel Laureate in Physics for his Electroweak Theory, and Satish Dhawan, leading Indian rocket scientist and former chairman of the Indian Space Research Organization. After completion of his undergraduate degree, Amir went to Göttingen University in Germany. After two semesters he determined that his interest in nuclear physics would be better served at the University of Heidelberg. He pursued his doctorate there in nuclear physics with a brief return to Lahore in 1962 to marry his wife, Amna. Amir ad Amna have a son, Omar who is an engineer.
Following his completion of his degree, he made a tour of the U.S., giving talks about his research. On the tour he met Taro Tamura at Oak Ridge. A friend from Heidelberg, Peter von Brentano, now in Austin, invited him to come and collaborate on some experiments with the UT tandem accelerator. During these experiments he did a job search and received three offers. The UT nuclear group secured approval to make him an offer which he accepted. He was a very prolific member of the research group in the Center for Nuclear Studies. He served twice as Director of the Center. As the Center was winding down, Amir switched his interest to theoretical particle physics. He also designed a freshman physics mechanics laboratory which involved high precision measurements and computer analysis of the data.
One of his PhD students, Gary Westfall, 1975 graduate, became a University Distinguished Professor at Michigan State University.
Zaidi at controls of Tandem Van deGraaff.