Sylvester James Gates, Jr., Ph.D

2024 Honorary Board: SYLVESTER JAMES GATES, JR. John S. Toll Professor of Physics, Clark Leadership Chair in Science, Distinguished University Professor, Professor of Physics, Professor of Public Policy in the University of Maryland's School of Public Policy

Sylvester James Gates, Jr. holds the Clark Leadership Chair in Science. During his decades with the UMD Department of Physics, he was named a Distinguished University Professor, University System of Maryland Regents Professor and John S. Toll Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland. Known for his pioneering work in supersymmetry and supergravity, areas closely related to string theory, Gates was also an affiliate mathematics professor. Gates earned two Bachelor of Science degrees (in physics and mathematics) and his Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1984, Gates co-authored Superspace: One Thousand and One Lessons in Supersymmetry, the first comprehensive book on supersymmetry, and joined the UMD faculty as an associate professor. Four years later, he became the first African American to hold an endowed chair in physics at a major U.S. research university.

The author of more than 200 research papers and a member of the National Academy of Sciences, Gates has been featured in dozens of video documentaries, including five in 2015. For his contribution to science and research, he received the National Medal of Science from President Obama in 2013. Gates has served on the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the National Commission on Forensic Science, and the Maryland State Board of Education. He is a strong advocate for science, technology, engineering and mathematics education. He has served as president of both the National Society of Black Physicists and the American Physical Society.