Dr. Sylvester James Gates, Jr., Theoretical Physicist
Dr. Sylvester James Gates, Jr. is a theoretical physicist known for his work on supersymmetry, supergravity, and superstring theory.
In 1984, he co-authored Superspace, the first comprehensive book on the topic of supersymmetry. Born the oldest of four children in Tampa, FL, Gates spent his teen years in Orlando, attending Jones High School—his first experience in a segregated African American school. Comparing his own school’s quality to neighboring white schools, “I understood pretty quickly that the cards were really stacked against us.” Nevertheless, a course in physics established Gates’ career interest in that field, especially its mathematical side. At his father’s urging, he applied for admission to Massachusetts Institute of Technology and was accepted.
His doctoral thesis was the first at MIT on supersymmetry. Gates served on the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and is a past president of the National Society of Black Physicists. In 2013, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, becoming the first African American theoretical physicist so recognized in its 150-year history. President Obama awarded him the National Medal of Science, the highest award given to scientists in the U.S., in 2013.
Source: Black Innovators in STEM Who Changed the World (osc.org)
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