2006 Award Recipients
AAAS Award for Public Understanding of Science & Technology
S. James Gates, Jr.
S. James Gates, Jr. is honored for sustained and career-long contributions to the public understanding of physics.
The AAAS Award for Public Understanding of Science and Technology, established in 1987, recognizes working scientists and engineers who make outstanding contributions to the “popularization of science.” Recipients receive $5,000 and a commemorative plaque.
S. James Gates, Jr. was named the first John S. Toll Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD), in July 1998. With that position, he became the first African-American to hold an endowed chair in physics at a major research university in the United States. Following his undergraduate education at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), he then went on to receive his Ph.D. degree for studies of elementary particle physics and quantum field theory at MIT. He began postgraduate studies as a Junior Fellow of the Harvard Society of Fellows and ended with an appointment at Caltech. His faculty appointments began at MIT and later continued at the UMD. From 1991 to1993, he was on leave-of-absence from UMD and served as a physics professor and departmental chair at Howard University.
Dr. Gates has authored or co-authored more than 190 research papers published in scientific journals, co-authored one book, and contributed numerous articles in several books. 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 Albert Einstein.
To date, Dr. Gates has supervised more than 14 Ph.D. students, including two African Americans, to graduation. He addresses issues of general education through lectures to groups interested 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.
Dr. Gates is a member of the American Physical Society (APS), Sigma Xi, and the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP); he is also a past president of the NSBP and has served on the executive board of APS. He is a member of the 62nd College of Distinguished Lecturers of Sigma Xi. In addition, he is a member of the board of directors of the Quality Education for Minorities Network (QEM).
Dr. Gates has served as a consultant for the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Defense, the Educational Testing Service, and Time-Life Books. He was chosen as the first recipient of the APS Bouchet Award and is a Fellow of the APS and NSBP. In 1997, MIT bestowed the Martin L. King, Jr. Leadership Award on him. And in 1999, the Washington Academy of Sciences named him its College Science Teacher of the Year.
Please click here  for a list of past recipients.