Dr. Sylvester James Gates Jr.
Professor of Mathematics, University of Maryland at College Park
23rd Annual MLK Leadership Award
Dr. Sylvester James Gates Jr. '73, PhD '77 earned SB degrees in Physics and in Mathematics (1973) and a PhD in Physics (1977) from MIT, where his doctoral dissertation--“Symmetry Principles in Selected Problems of Field Theory”-- was the first devoted to "supersymmetry". (While in graduate school, he tried out to be an astronaut and was friends with the late Ronald E. McNair). Dr. Gates went on to focus on string theory, an extemely mathematical view of physics, joining relativity and quantum mechanics.
His postgraduate studies began as a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows (1977-1980) and ended with an appointment at Caltech (1980-1982). His teaching career started in 1972, as a summer calculus instructor at MIT, and he has since taught mathematics or physics without interruption. From 1982 to 1984, he served as an assistant professor at MIT. Since 1984, Dr. Gates has been on faculty at the University of Maryland at College Park. On a leave of absence from 1991-1993, he served as Physics Professor and Departmental Chair at Howard University.
Dr. Gates was a 2010-2011 MLK Visiting Professor.