9 Black People Who Made an Impact in Physics


Warren Henry’s celebrated career spanned 70 years. As a graduate student at the University of Chicago, he studied with a number of Nobel laureates, including Arthur Compton, James Franck, Maria Goeppert-Mayer, Robert Mulliken and Wolfgang Pauli. During World War II, he helped develop a radar. After the war, he worked at the Naval Research Laboratory and explored the magnetic and superconductive properties of materials at temperatures near absolute zero and ways to use them in aerospace technology. He taught at the Tuskegee Institute, and was the chairman of the physics department at Morehouse College.


Shirley Ann Jackson is currently the 18th president of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the second African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in physics. She started her career working at Fermilab, SLAC and CERN before arriving at Bell Laboratories in 1976 to work on condensed matter research. In 1995, President Bill Clinton named her the head of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the first woman and the first African-American to lead the commission.


Ronald McNair was an astronaut who previously researched satellite communications at Hughes Research Laboratory in California. His first flight into space was onboard the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984 to conduct experiments in microgravity. He and the rest of his crew lost their lives seconds after liftoff of his second shuttle flight onboard Challenger in 1986. The mission of the flight was to photograph Halley’s Comet.

2 Replies to “9 Black People Who Made an Impact in Physics”

Comments are closed.