Biographical Sketch: Sylvester James Gates, Jr.
John S. Toll Professor of Physics

At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Professor Gates completed his undergraduate education (1969-1973) and received two B.Sc. degrees (Mathematics & Physics). His Ph.D. (1977, physics) was conferred for studies of elementary particle phy- sics and quantum field theory. Thus, began his research into the topic known as ``supersymmetry'' with his thesis being the first devoted to this subject at M.I.T. His postgraduate studies started as a Junior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows (1977-1980) and ended with an appointment at Caltech (1980-1982). Faculty appointments began at MIT (1982-1984) and later continued at the University of Maryland at College Park (1984-present). From 1991-1993, he was on leave of absence and served as Physics Professor and Departmental Chair at Howard University. In July, 1998 he was named the first John S. Toll Professor of Physics and thus the first African-American to hold an endowed chair in physics at a major research university in the U.S.

Prof. Gates has authored or co-authored over 120 research papers published in scientific journals, co-authored one book and contributed numerous articles in others. His research, in the areas of the mathematical and theoretical physics of supersymmetric particles, fields and strings, covers topics such as the physics of quarks, leptons, gravity, super and heterotic strings and unified field theories of the type first envisioned by A. Einstein ( Dr. Gates travels widely speaking at national and international scientific meetings.

To date he has supervised 14 Ph.D. students, including two African-Americans, to graduation. He began teaching, at first college undergraduates, in 1972 as a summer calculus instructor at MIT and has since taught mathematics or physics without interruption. The Washington Academy of Sciences named him as its 1999 College Science Teacher of the Year. He addresses issues of general education through lectures to groups inter- ested in science and mathematics. Other lectures and writings discuss the challenge of technical educations for African- Americans and the issues of affirmative action, diversity and equity ( ).

A member of the American Physical Society (APS), Sigma Xi and the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP) (, he is a past president of the NSBP. Dr. Gates has served as a consultant for the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, Department of Defense, the Educational Testing Service and Time-Life Books. Dr. Gates was chosen as the first recipient of the APS Bouchet Award and is a Fellow of the APS and NSBP. From MIT in 1997, he was bestowed with the Martin L. King, Jr. Leadership Award. He also has served on the executive board of the APS and is a member of the 62nd College of Distinguished Lecturers of Sigma Xi. At the APS Centennial meeting, he gave a talk on supersymmetry and new millennial physics. ( (requires Real Player)). He is also a member of the board of directors of the Quality Education for Minorities Network (QEM).

His works and that of others were highlighted on a program ``The Path of Most Resistance,'' as part of the PBS television series ``Breakthrough: The Changing Face of Science in America'' with an initial broadcast in April of 1996. As well, he was a featured subject in the Horizon section of the Dec. 11 edition of the Washington Post. In January, 1998 he made a second television appearance in ``Mysteries of the Universe'' as part of the PBS series ``A Science Odyssey.'' In March of 1998, he appeared on the simultaneous C-Span television broadcast and Internet cybercast of the second Millennium Lecture by Prof. Stephen Hawking from the East Room of the White House. Prof. Gates was asked to provide comments on the topic of supersymmetry for the broadcasts and live audiences including U.S. President, William J. Clinton.

Biographical information on Prof. Gates is also available on the World Wide Web at the following URL's

U Maryland Theoretical Physics

APS Bouchet Award