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Arlie Petters

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Information about Arlie Petters

Profile image of Arlie Petters

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
ScienceMakers
Occupation(s):
Business Professor
Mathematician
Physicist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Aquamarine
Favorite Food:
Belizian Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Easter
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Belize
Favorite Quote:
Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

Birthplace

Born:
2/8/1964
Birth Location:
Dangriga,

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
ScienceMakers
Occupation(s):
Business Professor
Mathematician
Physicist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Aquamarine
Favorite Food:
Belizian Food
Favorite Time of Year:
Easter
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Belize
Favorite Quote:
Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.

Birthplace

Born:
2/8/1964
Birth Location:
Dangriga
See how Arlie Petters is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Mathematician, physicist and business professor Arlie Petters was born on February 8, 1964 in Dangriga, Belize. As a child, he lived with his grandparents and was captivated by the mystery of the skies. In 1979, Petters left Belize to live with his mother in the United States. After graduating from Canarsie High School in Brooklyn, New York, Petters enrolled at Hunter College. Family problems left Petters homeless, but he received a Minority Access to Research Careers Fellowship that allowed him to stay in school. In 1986, Petters graduated from Hunter College with his B.A/M.A. interdisciplinary degree in mathematics and physics. He continued his studies with a dual concentration in mathematics and physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), earning his Ph.D. degree in 1991. His doctoral thesis was entitled “Singularities in Gravitational Microlensing." During the summers of 1986 to 1991, Petters worked as a Corporate Research Fellowship Program (CRFP) Fellow at Bell Laboratories.

Following graduation, Petters became an instructor of pure mathematics at MIT. In 1993, Petters joined the faculty of Princeton University as an assistant professor of mathematics. He served as the co-director of graduate studies in mathematics from 1996 to 1998. Petters left Princeton in 1998 to join the faculty of Duke University as the William and Sue Gross Associate Professor. Petters was the lead author of the book, Singularity Theory and Gravitational Lensing in 2001, which outlined the first single mathematical theory to explain gravitational lensing. He became a full professor in 2003 and was the first African American at Duke University to receive tenure in the mathematics department. In 2005, Petters founded the Petters Research Institute to train Belizean students in the STEM disciplines. In 2008, he received a triple appointment to the departments of mathematics, physics and business administration, and in 2009, he was awarded the Benjamin Powell endowed chair. In 2010, Petters was appointed to serve as chairman on the Council of Science Advisors to the Prime Minister of Belize.
He also served as visiting professor at the Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik, Oxford University, Harvard University, Princeton University and was a Martin Luther King Jr. visiting professor of physics at MIT.

Petters has received numerous awards including the Sloan Research Fellowship and the National Science Foundation Early Career Grant Award. He was the first recipient of the Blackwell-Tapia Prize in Mathematical Science. He also received much recognition for his philanthropic efforts in Belize including the Award for Service to the Educational Development of Belize from the Friends in Support of the Diocese in Belize. Petters was also named by the Queen of England to Membership in the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Petters served on the Board of Governors for the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications and on the Board of Trustees for the Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics. He is a member of the American Mathematical Society, American Astronomical Society and the Royal Astronomical Society. Petters lives with his wife Elizabeth Petters in Durham, North Carolina.

Arlie Petters was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 21, 2012.

See how Arlie Petters is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Arlie Petters' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Arlie Petters lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Arlie Petters describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Arlie Petters talks about his mother's education
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Arlie Petters describes his biological father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Arlie Petters talks about his stepfather, Cecil Petters
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Arlie Petters describes his grandmother, Bernice Waight
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Arlie Petters describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Arlie Petters talks about how his parents met
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Arlie Petters talks about his mother's immigration to the United States
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Arlie Petters recalls his earliest childhood memory
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Arlie Petters talks about his childhood neighborhood
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Arlie Petters describes the sights, smells, and sounds of growing up
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Arlie Petters talks about the interactions between Garifunas and Creoles in Dangriga
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Arlie Petters talks about the culture of Dangriga, Belize
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Arlie Petters talks about radio and television during his childhood
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Arlie Petters describes his curious and pensive nature as a child
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Arlie Petters talks about Chinese culture in Belize
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Arlie Petters talks about his early education and the mentors that fostered his curiosity
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Arlie Petters reflects on the psychological effects of racism on African Americans
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Arlie Petters shares his first impressions of the United States
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Arlie Petters talks about his experience at Canarsie High School in Brooklyn, New York
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Arlie Petters talks about his decision to become a scientist
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Arlie Petters talks about his experience at Hunter College
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Arlie Petters talks about Einsten's theory of relativity
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Arlie Petters describes his difficult relationship with his stepfather and his Minority Access to Research Careers Scholarship
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Arlie Petters talks about the healing of his family relationships
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Arlie Petters talks about his doctoral work at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Arlie Petters discusses his research on the mathematical theory of gravitational lensing
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Arlie Petters talks about the applications of math for physics, astronomy, and business
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Arlie Petters discusses his mathematical theory of shadow patterns in the universe
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Arlie Petters talks about his work at Princeton University, Oxford University, and the Max Planck Institute
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Arlie Petters talks about his move to Duke University
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Arlie Petters talks about his book, Singularity Theory and Gravitational Lensing
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Arlie Petters reflects on the finite nature of human knowledge
  • Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Arlie Petters contrasts science education in the United States and in Belize
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Arlie Petters discusses his research on how black holes affect light
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Arlie Petters talks about his desire to see more minorities pursue advanced degrees in mathematics
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Arlie Petters talks about being awarded the Blackwell Tapia Prize
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Arlie Petters talks about achieving the status of a full professor
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Arlie Petters talks about the Petters Research Institute
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Arlie Petters reflects on being inducted into the National Academy of Arts and Sciences Portrait Gallery
  • Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Arlie Petters talks about his work with the Institute of Pure and Applied Mathematics
  • Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Arlie Petters talks about being featured on 'Nova'
  • Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Arlie Petters talks about honors he has received
  • Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Arlie Petters talks about his research on the optics of black holes
  • Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Arlie Petters describes his work in finance
  • Tape: 6 Story: 12 - Arlie Petters talks about Arlie Petters Street in Belize
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Arlie Petters discusses his work to strengthen the economy of Brazil using science
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Arlie Petters talks about his family
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Arlie Petters talks about his awards
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Arlie Petters talks about his students
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Arlie Petters discusses the future of gravitational lensing and astronomy
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Arlie Petters shares his concerns about the African American community
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Arlie Petters talks about his legacy
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Arlie Petters reflects on his life
  • Tape: 7 Story: 9 - Arlie Petters talks about his hobbies and interests
  • Tape: 7 Story: 10 - Arlie Petters talks about his faith
  • Tape: 7 Story: 11 - Arlie Petters talks about how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 7 Story: 12 - Arlie Petters describes his photos