Physicist Frederick William Oliver was born on October 15, 1940, in Baltimore City, Maryland, to Hattie and Willis Oliver. Oliver was raised on J Street, in an African American community located in Sparrows Point. He attended Sollers Point High School, graduating in 1958. Oliver then went to Morgan State University where he received his B.S. degree in physics in 1962, under the mentorship of Dr. Julius Taylor. Oliver continued his education, receiving his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Howard University in 1965 and 1972, respectively, both in condensed matter physics. His research examines the Mossbauer Effect and its uses in spectroscopy.
In 1969, Oliver joined the faculty at Morgan State University as an associate professor. In 1979, Oliver became Chair of the physics department at Morgan State University, taking over the position from his mentor, Dr. Julius Taylor. He served until 1995, and then again from 1999 to 2006. While at Morgan State University, Oliver held appointments with the Naval Research Laboratory, the Argonne National Laboratory, the University of Maryland, NASA, Lawrence Livermore Laboratories, Bell Laboratories, and the Harry Diamond Laboratories. Oliver also served as the university’s Radiation Safety Officer for fifteen years beginning in 1990. Since 2007, Oliver has been an appointed part-time administrative judge with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Atomic Safety and Licensing Board Panel.
Oliver has published thirty-two full-length papers since 1965, and presented at numerous conferences. He has been awarded the Dr. Iva G. Jones Medallion Mantle Award and is an inducted member of Beta Kappa Chi, Sigma Chi, and Sigma Pi Sigma. Oliver’s most recent grant was funded by the Department of Energy for its “Educational Bridge Program.”
Oliver lives in Maryland with his wife Dianne. He has two grown children, Chaszetta and Chinyere from a former marriage.
Frederick William Oliver was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 15, 2010.