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Robert Bragg

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Information about Robert Bragg

Profile image of Robert Bragg

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
ScienceMakers
Occupation(s):
Physics Professor
Physicist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black, Dark Blue, Beige, Brown
Favorite Food:
Greens
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring, Early Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
N/A
Favorite Quote:
Be Cool.

Birthplace

Born:
8/11/1919
Birth Location:
Jacksonville, Florida

Profession

Category:
EducationMakers
ScienceMakers
Occupation(s):
Physics Professor
Physicist

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Black, Dark Blue, Beige, Brown
Favorite Food:
Greens
Favorite Time of Year:
Spring, Early Fall
Favorite Vacation Spot:
N/A
Favorite Quote:
Be Cool.

Birthplace

Born:
8/11/1919
Birth Location:
Jacksonville
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Biography

Physicist and engineer Robert Henry “Pete” Bragg, Jr. was born on August 11, 1919 in Jacksonville, Florida to Robert Henry Bragg and Lily Camille MacFarland. He had one older sister, Alberta, a younger sister, Nadine, and a younger brother, Johnny. After his parents separated, Bragg lived with his mother and grandmother in Memphis, Tennessee, but he was encouraged by his family to move to Chicago, Illinois, to live with his Aunt Edna and Uncle Teddy where he attended Tilden Technical High School. Bragg pursued higher education at Woodrow Wilson Junior College, a community college in Chicago, Illinois, for a couple of years before enlisting in the military during World War II. Using the money allotted to him from the G.I. Bill to attend Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT), Bragg pursued a career in physics following the war. He received his B.S. degree in physics in 1949 and continued his graduate studies under the tutelage of Frances L. Yost, graduating from IIT in 1951 with his M.S. degree and his thesis on quantum mechanical scattering theories.

Following his graduation, Bragg was hired at the Dover Electroplating Company on the North Side of Chicago, and then the Portland Cement Association Research Laboratory. While working with the latter of these companies, Bragg became an expert in x-ray crystallography and xray diffraction. He was then hired by the Armour Research Foundation at IIT, where he worked for another five years while continuing his graduate studies working under his mentor, Dr. Leonid V. Azaroff. Bragg completed his studies at IIT in 1960 and earned his Ph.D. degree in physics.

Bragg was then hired by Lockheed Martin Missile and Space, where he worked for nine years before joining the faculty of the materials science and engineering department at the University of California, Berkeley in June of 1969. Bragg served as chair of the materials science and engineering department from 1978 to 1981, the only African American to do so at that time. Bragg’s research interests included x-ray diffraction and its application to such topics as the structure and electronic properties of carbon materials. There materials were used in aircraft and aerospace vehicles as well as in everyday items such as golf clubs and tennis rackets. He taught at the university and conducted research at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) until 1986. After his retirement, Bragg was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in 1992 to conduct research for one year at the University of Ife in Nigeria. He also performed research at the Advanced Photon Source at the Argonne National Laboratory in 1999.

Bragg’s investigations in chemistry and physics earned him numerous honors and awards throughout his career. He was named a fellow of the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP) in 1995 and a professor emeritus of the University of California, Berkeley upon his retirement in 1987.

Bragg passed away on October 3, 2017 at age 98.

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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Robert Bragg's interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Robert Bragg shares his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Robert Bragg talks about his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Robert Bragg talks about his maternal grandfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Robert Bragg talks about his mother
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Robert Bragg talks about his father's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Robert Bragg talks about his father
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Robert Bragg explains how his parents met
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Robert Bragg talks about his mother's half-sister who was in show business
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Robert Bragg discusses his parents' marriage and their separation
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Robert Bragg talks about his mother's second marriage
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Robert Bragg talks about his resemblance to certain family members
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Robert Bragg shares his early childhood memories, part 1
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Robert Bragg shares his early childhood memories, part 2
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Robert Bragg describes his upbringing in Memphis, Tennessee, part 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Robert Bragg recalls growing up in Memphis, Tennessee, part 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Robert Bragg talks about his elementary school experience, part 1
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Robert Bragg talks about his elementary experience, part 2
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Robert Bragg discusses his awareness of African American organizations
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Robert Bragg recalls his family's move to Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Robert Bragg describes himself as a teenager
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Robert Bragg talks about living in Chicago, Illinois with his uncle
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Robert Bragg describes his uncle's work for Oscar DePriest as a plumber
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Robert Bragg describes his experience at Tilden Technical High School in Chicago
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Robert Bragg talks about is experience at Wilson Junior College
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Robert Bragg talks about his service in the Army Air Corps, part 1
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Robert Bragg talks about his service in the Army Air Corps, part 2
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Robert Bragg recalls taking aptitude tests and joining the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Robert Bragg recounts his experience in his U.S. Army laundry unit
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Robert Bragg describes his direct commission to officer in the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Robert Bragg describes his army experience in the Philippines
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Robert Bragg describes his army experience in Japan
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Robert Bragg talks about a murder that occurred while he served in the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Robert Bragg talks about going to college after his return from the U.S. Army
  • Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Robert Bragg talks about earning his master's degree at the Illinois Institute of Technology
  • Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Robert Bragg tells how he met his wife
  • Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Robert Bragg remembers looking for a job after earning his master's degree
  • Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Robert Bragg recalls his experience of integrating the cafeteria at Portland Cement Association
  • Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Robert Bragg describes his work at the Portland Cement Association
  • Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Robert Bragg remembers looking for a new job after the Portland Cement Association
  • Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Robert Bragg remembers doing well on a test at North Carolina A&T College
  • Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Robert Bragg talks about his work at the Armour Research Foundation
  • Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Robert Bragg describes his PhD dissertation, part 1
  • Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Robert Bragg describes his PhD dissertation, part 2
  • Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Robert Bragg talks about his job at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company
  • Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Robert Bragg describes his involvement in the Palo Alto community
  • Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Robert Bragg details his laboratory work on the properties of carbon
  • Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Robert Bragg talks about his travels while working at Lockheed Missiles and Space Company
  • Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Robert Bragg recalls discussions of race relations in Argentina and the U.S.
  • Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Robert Bragg talks about his position at the University of California, Berkeley
  • Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Robert Bragg discusses the role of African Americans in science
  • Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Robert Bragg continues discussing the role of African Americans in science
  • Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Robert Bragg talks about his accomplishments at the University of California, Berkeley
  • Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Robert Bragg discusses his research at the University of California, Berkeley
  • Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Robert Bragg talks about his most significant scientific achievements, part 1
  • Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Robert Bragg talks about his most significant scientific achievements, part 2
  • Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Robert Bragg talks about his work as a detailee with the U.S. Department of Energy, part 1
  • Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Robert Bragg talks about his work as a detailee with the U.S. Department of Energy, part 2
  • Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Robert Bragg talks about his other professional positions
  • Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Robert Bragg responds to a question about black student preparedness
  • Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Robert Bragg discusses African American organizations
  • Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Robert Bragg talks about his family and reflects on his decisions
  • Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Robert Bragg recalls being a busboy at the Palmer House Hotel in Chicago, Illinois
  • Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Robert Bragg discusses his involvement in University of California, Berkeley committees
  • Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Robert Bragg talks about his appointment as faculty assistant to the chancellor
  • Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Robert Bragg talks about his best students at University of California, Berkeley
  • Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Robert Bragg reflects on his life's accomplishments
  • Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Robert Bragg shares his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Robert Bragg talks about his scientific legacy
  • Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Robert Bragg talks about his immediate family
  • Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Robert Bragg explains the origins of his nickname "Pete" and reflects on his life's accomplishments
  • Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Robert Bragg describes his photos