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Alfred Msezane

Research physicist Alfred Z. Msezane was born on December 31, 1938 in South Africa. His father, Albert, was a businessman and his mother, Esther, a housewife. Msezane enrolled in the University of South Africa in 1960, where he studied the shape and behavior of one of the most fundamental particles – the electron. Msezane graduated from the University of South Africa in 1964 with his B.S. degree in physics. Msezane then travelled to Canada to conduct research and study at the University of Saskatchewan in Ontario, Canada, where he received his M.S. degree in physics in 1968. Msezane returned to South Africa for a year to conduct research at the Nuclear Physics Research Unit of Witwaterstrand University. Msezane received his Ph.D. degree in physics from the University of Western Ontario in 1973.

Msezane started his long career as a college professor at the University of New Brunswick in 1973 and became a physics instructor in 1976. Msezane immigrated to United States from Canada to complete his postdoctoral research at the Georgia State University in 1974. From 1978 to 1980, he served as a visiting professor at Louisiana State University. In 1980, Msezane joined the faculty of Morehouse College as an assistant professor of physics. He left Morehouse College in 1983 to become a professor at Atlanta University and served as chair of the physics department from 1986 to 1989. In 1988, Atlanta University merged with Clark University to become Clark Atlanta University, and Msezane remained on as a professor of physics. Msezane is the director of the Center for Theoretical Studies of Physical Systems (CTSPS) at Clark Atlanta University. His research team investigates mathematical physics theory, solid matter, and image processing. Msezane’s research on electron interaction with matter and electron configuration within the atom has resulted in over 260 research papers published in scholarly journals.

Msezane is also a member of several professional societies, including the American Physical Society (APS) and the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP). Msezane was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Science degree from the University of Fort Hare (South Africa) in 1998, and is a recipient of the World University Service Scholarship.

Alfred Msezane works in Atlanta, Georgia.

Alfred Msezane was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 11, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.245

Sex

Male

Interview Date

12/11/2012

Last Name

Msezane

Maker Category
Middle Name

Z.

Occupation
Schools

Western University

University of Saskatchewan

University of South Africa

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Alfred

HM ID

MSE01

Favorite Season

Spring

Favorite Quote

I don't have till the second coming.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Interview Description
Birth Date

12/31/1938

Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

South Africa

Short Description

Physicist Alfred Msezane (1938 - ) , an internationally renowned theoretical physicist, is the director of the Center for Theoretical Studies of Physical Systems (CTSPS) at Clark Atlanta University.

Employment

Witwatersrand University

University of Western Ontario

Georgia State University

University of New Brunswick

Louisiana State University

Morehouse College

Atlanta University

Clark Atlanta University

Favorite Color

Navy Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Alfred Msezane's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Alfred Msezane lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Alfred Msezane describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Alfred Msezane describes life in colonized South Africa

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Alfred Msezane describes the people of Swaziland

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Alfred Msezane talks about the colonial history of South Africa

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Alfred Msezane describes his father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Alfred Msezane talks about the Zulu tribe

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Alfred Msezane talks about his father, and about how his parents met and married

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Alfred Msezane describes his family's life in the city of Johannesburg, South Africa

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Alfred Msezane describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Alfred Msezane describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Alfred Msezane talks about his brother, Richard Msezane, and his first school in Johannesburg

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Alfred Msezane describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Alfred Msezane talks about the toxic gases released from the gold mines of Johannesburg, South Africa

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Alfred Msezane describes his experience in St. Louis Catholic School and Thlakula School

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Alfred Msezane talks about World War II, and his community's involvement in the African National Congress [ANC]

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Alfred Msezane describes his experience in Thlakula School

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Alfred Msezane describes his decision to attend the University of Fort Hare, South Africa

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Alfred Msezane describes the segregation of South African universities and professional practice under the apartheid government

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Alfred Msezane describes the importance of education, as a South African

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Alfred Msezane describes his experience in InKamana High School and at the University of Fort Hare

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Alfred Msezane describes the differences between the British and American education systems

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Alfred Msezane describes his decision to pursue a Ph.D. degree in physics at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Alfred Msezane describes his experience at the University of Saskatchewan

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Alfred Msezane describes his master's degree thesis research

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Alfred Msezane describes his experience at the University of the Witwatersrand, and his departure from South Africa

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Alfred Msezane talks about his late wife, Gail Msezane

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Alfred Msezane describes his Ph.D. dissertation research on collision theory

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Alfred Msezane describes his reasons for not returning to South Africa after his Ph.D. degree

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Alfred Msezane describes his post-doctoral experience at Georgia State University

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Alfred Msezane describes his experience at Louisiana State University and at Morehouse College

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Alfred Msezane talks about his funding relationship with the U.S. Department of Energy

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Alfred Msezane talks about his experience at Morehouse College, and the lack of research infrastructure at HBCUs

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Alfred Msezane describes his experience at Clark Atlanta University

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Alfred Msezane describes his relationship with HistoryMaker Carlos Handy, and their contributions towards research at Clark Atlanta University

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Alfred Msezane talks about meeting Nelson Mandela

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Alfred Msezane discusses his visits to South Africa and the country's current status of physics

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Alfred Msezane talks upon the importance of a formal education to inform political commentary

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Alfred Msezane talks about his participation in conferences, his research in nano-science, and his professional memberships

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Alfred Msezane reflects upon his life's choices

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Alfred Msezane describes his preference for research over administration

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Alfred Msezane reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Alfred Msezane describes his hopes and concerns for the African-American community today

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Alfred Msezane talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Alfred Msezane talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Alfred Msezane describes his photographs

DASession

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DATape

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DAStory

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DATitle
Alfred Msezane describes the importance of education, as a South African
Alfred Msezane describes his post-doctoral experience at Georgia State University
Transcript
You know, (unclear) I will have to say to you, when I was growing up, education was paramount. Now, I want to tell you, you know, what is interesting, because around 1960 or '62 [1962], 1960, there was a treason fire in South Africa, where many of the people, including Albert Luthuli [South African teacher and politician; president of the African National Congress; Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and first African to win a Nobel Prize, 1960/1961] were rounded and charged with treason but where many of us learned was they had some excellent lawyers, like the Jewish community in South Africa was very strong. To cut a long story short, they defeated the government with its own laws, with its own prosecutors and judges, very impressive. So that was motivation for us to go to school. The intellectual capacity of these lawyers, yeah, it's not--it wasn't easy to defeat the South African government at that time. But they could. These people were freed, yeah, we know a treason trial in South Africa meant you would hang at the end of the day.$Okay, so you took a post-doctoral [position] here in the states, right?$$Right.$$Yeah--$$First at Georgia State [University, Atlanta, Georgia] with a friend of mine, Steve Manson. I must say that when I worked with Steve, Steve Manson, M-A-N-S-O-N, changed the dynamics of research completely because his model was first, we have to publish in a prestigious physics journals. Otherwise, we don't count. And that's what, you know, was imbedded in my head. For the first time, I could see us publishing in some of the prestigious physics journals.$$Okay, so when did you publish your first paper?$$Oh, no, about--my first paper was published in, when I was at Western Ontario [University of Western Ontario, London, Canada] for (unclear)--$$Okay.$$But with him, in this--between '75 [1975] and '79 [1979], we published lots of papers with Steve Manson here, and he exposed me to many of these very high-powered physicists. One of them is Ugo Fano from the University of Chicago [Chicago, Illinois], one of the top physicists at that time, yep. And there's a large--and then he also made me attend the meetings of the American Physical Society and introduced me to many people. I also attended the international conferences. And that bothered me because you had, you don't see blacks, even in America.$$Well, not many.$$Yeah, even today, you still don't see many.