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Chemist and professor Alvin P. Kennedy was born on June 1, 1955, in Lansing, Michigan, to Helen Augusta Kennedy and Amos Paul Kennedy. He grew up in Grambling, Louisiana, where he attended Grambling Laboratory School and later Grambling High School. Kennedy attended Grambling State University, during which time he participated in cooperative and summer internships at Brookhaven National Labs, Dow Chemical Company, Dowell, and AT&T Bell Laboratories. He received his B.S. degree in chemistry from Grambling State in 1978. Kennedy pursued graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, with funding from an AT&T Bell Laboratories Cooperative Research Fellowship. His graduate research focused on the development of chemical lasers and the kinetics associated with spontaneous reactions. Kennedy received his Ph.D. degree in physical chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1985.
After receiving his Ph.D. degree, Kennedy was hired at Dow Chemical Company in Midland, Michigan, as a senior research chemist in central research, where he developed new polymer systems for microelectronic applications. He also produced sixteen internal publications and was promoted to project leader in the Advanced Electronics Materials Division of Central Research at Dow in 1989. In 1991, Kennedy was appointed assistant professor of chemistry at North Carolina A&T State University, and in 1996, he was promoted to associate professor. He received a NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)/ASEE (American Society for Engineering Education) Research Fellowship at the Marshall Space Flight Center in 1997. He also served as Program Coordinator and mentor for the NASA Sharp Plus High School program for several years. In 2000, Kennedy joined the faculty at Morgan State University, in Baltimore, Maryland, as associate professor of chemistry and chair of the chemistry department. Kennedy became a tenured professor at Morgan State University in 2002. There, he helped build the research infrastructure necessary for creating a program that would serve as the foundation for developing a Continuous Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) and he established a research collaboration that focused on the development of Sensors for BioEnvironmental Research (SenBER). Kennedy was director of Morgan's NSF HBCU-UP Undergraduate Research Program. Kennedy received several patents throughout his career, including two patents on laminates of polymers, one in 1993 and the other in 1995. In 1998, he patented the Resin transfer molding process for composites.
Kennedy served as a board member and chair of the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) Higher Education Strategic Initiatives, which organized the first HBCU/MI Chemistry Chair's Forum. He also served as Chair of the ACS Maryland Local Section in 2010 and Vice-Chair in 2009.
Kennedy was the recipient of several honors and awards, including his 1998 appearance in Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers and the 2008 Henry McBay Outstanding Teacher of the Year award from NOBCChE.
Kennedy was married to Sharon Kennedy and had three children from a previous marriage.
Alvin Kennedy was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 15, 2010.
Kennedy passed away on February 7, 2022, at age 66.