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Anthony Johnson

Physicist Anthony M. Johnson was born on May 23, 1954 in Brooklyn, New York to James W. Johnson and Helen Y. Johnson. He initially wanted to study math or chemistry in college until a teacher at Samuel J. Tilden High School in Brooklyn, New York introduced him to physics. Johnson attended the Polytechnic Institute of New York where he graduated magna cum laude with his B.S. degree in physics in 1975. He went on to earn his Ph.D. degree in physics from the City College of New York in 1981. Johnson conducted his thesis research at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey with support from the Bell Labs Cooperative Research Fellowship Program.

Upon graduation, Johnson was hired at Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, New Jersey as a member of the technical staff in the Quantum Physics and Electronics Research Department. In 1988, Johnson was promoted as a distinguished member of Bell Labs technical staff; and, in 1990, he became part of the Photonic Circuits Research Department. Johnson joined the faculty of the New Jersey Institute of Technology in 1995 where he served as chairperson, distinguished professor of applied physics, and professor of electrical and computer engineering. In 2003, Johnson was named as Director of the Center for Advanced Studies in Photonics Research (CASPR). He was then appointed as professor of physics, computer science, and electrical engineering at the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC) where his research focused on ultrafast optics and optoelectronics.

Johnson has authored two book chapters, over seventy scholarly articles, and he has been credited with four U.S. Patents. In addition, he served as Editor-in-Chief of the journal Optics Letters from 1995 to 2001. Between 1991 and 2000, Johnson was elected as a Fellow into several academic and professional organizations, including the Optical Society of America (OSA), the American Physical Society (APS), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). He was a 1992 Charter Fellow of the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP). In 1993, Johnson received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Polytechnic University; and, in 1994, he was honored with the Black Engineer of the Year Special Recognition Award. The American Physical Society presented Johnson with the Edward A. Bouchet Award in 1996. In 2002, Johnson became the first African American to serve as president of the Optical Society of America.

Johnson is married to Dr. Adrienne S. Johnson. They have three adult children, Kimberly, Justin, and Brandon.

Anthony M. Johnson was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 24, 201

Accession Number

A2013.167

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/25/2013

Last Name

Johnson

Maker Category
Occupation
Schools

City College of New York

Polytechnic Institute of New York University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Anthony

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

JOH44

Favorite Season

Fall

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Brisbane, Australia

Favorite Quote

Work hard, play hard.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Maryland

Birth Date

5/23/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Baltimore

Country

United States

Favorite Food

seafood, Chitterlings

Short Description

Physicist Anthony Johnson (1954 - ) , a 1992 Charter Fellow of the National Society of Black Physicists, became the first African American elected as president of the Optical Society of American in 2002.

Employment

University of Maryland, Baltimore County

New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT)

Bell Laboratories

Favorite Color

Electric Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Anthony Johnson's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Anthony Johnson lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Anthony Johnson describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Anthony Johnson describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Anthony Johnson talks about his parents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Anthony Johnson describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Anthony Johnson talks about his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Anthony Johnson describes his childhood household

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Anthony Johnson describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Anthony Johnson describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Anthony Johnson talks about his interests as a child

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Anthony Johnson describes becoming interested in physics

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Anthony Johnson talks about his elementary and junior high schools

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Anthony Johnson talks about his junior high and high schools

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Anthony Johnson remembers when the first astronaut was put on the moon

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Anthony Johnson describes his high school interest in science and science fiction

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Anthony Johnson talks about his high school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Anthony Johnson describes his decision to pursue his doctoral degree in physics

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Anthony Johnson describes being encouraged go to college

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Anthony Johnson describes his time at the Brooklyn Collegiate and Polytechnic Institute

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Anthony Johnson talks about his summer at Bell Laboratories

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Anthony Johnson talks about his undergraduate research at Bell Laboratories

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Anthony Johnson describes his undergraduate research at Bell Laboratories and bachelor's thesis pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Anthony Johnson describes his undergraduate research at Bell Laboratories and bachelor's thesis pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Anthony Johnson describes how he met his wife

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Anthony Johnson describes his graduate education at Bell Laboratories and the City University of New York

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Anthony Johnson describes his doctoral dissertation

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Anthony Johnson describes being hired by Bell Laboratories

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Anthony Johnson talks about his first experience with the Optical Society of America

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Anthony Johnson describes his research at Bell Laboratories

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Anthony Johnson talks about the affirmative action program at Bell Laboratories

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Anthony Johnson reflects on his career at Bell Laboratories

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Anthony Johnson describes his involvement in his professional organizations

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Anthony Johnson talks about his patents at Bell Laboratories

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Anthony Johnson talks about the low numbers of African American physics doctorates

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Anthony Johnson describes his transition from Bell Laboratories to the New Jersey Institute of Technology

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Anthony Johnson talks about African American graduate students in physics

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Anthony Johnson describes his transition from the New Jersey Institute of Technology to the University of Maryland Baltimore County pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Anthony Johnson describes his transition from the New Jersey Institute of Technology to the University of Maryland Baltimore County pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Anthony Johnson talks about the Mid-InfraRed Technologies for Health and the Environment Center

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Anthony Johnson talks about measuring light and the non-linearity of fibers

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Anthony Johnson describes the quantum cascade laser

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Anthony Johnson talks about the future of laser technology

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Anthony Johnson talks about the limitations of short pulses

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Anthony Johnson talks about the minority programs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Anthony Johnson talks about the physics department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Anthony Johnson talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Anthony Johnson describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Anthony Johnson reflects on his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Anthony Johnson talks about the encouragement of his parents

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Anthony Johnson talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

2$4

DAStory

9$6

DATitle
Anthony Johnson talks about his summer at Bell Laboratories
Anthony Johnson talks about his patents at Bell Laboratories
Transcript
So, tell us about the Bell Labs [Bell Laboratories] experience in detail, since this is a big deal.$$This was a big deal. So, and it was, you know, it was different, because I had never really left Brooklyn [New York]. So, so I got, I applied to the program. The professor got me the application and I applied, and I got in. And so we had two locations in New Jersey--Murray Hill, New Jersey and Holmdel, New Jersey. Those were the two big research labs. And so, this was called the Bell Labs Summer Research Program for minorities and women. We call it SRP, Summer Research Program. It started in 1974. And so, I was given a choice of working with two physicists who went on to become, you know, very world famous. One was David Austin. And he was doing lasers and opto-electronics. He, after he left Bell Labs he went, he became dean of engineering at Columbia [University, New York, New York]. Then he went on to become provost at Rice University [Houston, Texas], and president of Case Western Reserve [University, Cleveland, Ohio]. And then he finally ended up at--well, he was president of the Covey Institute in Santa Barbara [California]. And they are a philanthropic organization, and does a lot of work in physics. And now he's at UC Santa Barbara [University of California at Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, California]. And I still keep close ties with him, because he became one of my Ph.D. thesis advisors, eventually. So, my connection with him was very, very strong. And then the other person I had the opportunity to--because I had a choice that first year. His name was Robert Dynes, D-Y-N-E-S. And he was a big name in superconductivity, low temperature physics. But I picked, I think I was more interested in lasers. And I picked Dave Austin, and that was my choice. And how I got into the field altogether was working with him.$Before we leave Bell [Laboratories], I want to ask you about your patents. You've been a part of a number of patents.$$Right. So, I have patents. I have four patents, and they all have to do with high speed optoelectronic devices. And that was, again, quite interesting. And working the patent attorneys and working with my colleagues. I mean they were all, they were not solo, they were collaborations with other researchers at Bell Labs. And I think I have four of those patents. And again, all high speed opto-electronics nature--high speed laser, a device--and we wrote a patent on that. And one of them, I remember has to do with trying to come up with a measurement capability to look at high speed integrated circuits. So you have these, this metallization on the optoelectronic device. And I came up with, with my colleague, we came up with a measurement that where we could actually image the electrical pulse traveling down the transmission line. And we did it by a process called photoemission. We would shine light on the electrode, and the electrons would come off, alright, by the process of photoemission. So, we would, we would do that and then by looking at the timing of when the electrical pulse went in--and when we would use a focus, an optical beam--we could actually get an image of this pulse traveling down the transmission line. And we could measure its speed, whether there were dispersion issues on it, what was slowing it down. And if we could improve that, we might be able to improve the performance of the device. So this was an imaging, a very high speed imaging process, to look at integrated circuits.

Donnell Walton

Physicist Donnell Thaddeus Walton was born on November 8, 1966 in Mt. Clemens, Michigan. He was one of three children born to Antoinette Williams. Walton attended North Carolina State University and graduated with his B.S. degree in physics and electrical engineering in 1989. Donnell went on to enroll in the University of Michigan where he studied under Dr. Walter Lowe and graduated with his Ph.D. degree in applied physics in 1996. He was awarded a postdoctoral fellowship with AT & T Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey under its Creative Research Fellowship Program (CRFP).

In 1996, Walton was hired as an assistant professor at Howard University where he taught in the physics department until 1999. Walton was then recruited by Corning, Inc. and assigned to the research and development department where he performed and led research in fiber amplifiers and lasers. After serving as project manager of science and technology from 2004 to 2008, he joined Corning, Inc.’s Gorilla Glass team where he was named senior applications engineer. While there, Walton developed products for the burgeoning information and technology sector and worked to extend the applicability of Gorilla Glass. In 2010, Walton was named manager of the Worldwide Applications Program at Corning, Inc. In addition, he has authored fifteen patents and over sixty technical papers in scholarly, peer review journals including Optics Express and Optics Letters.

Walton’s professional affiliations include memberships in the Society of Information Display, the Optical Society of America, and the American Physical Society. In 2013, Walton received the “Outstanding Technical Contribution to Industry Award” from U.S. Black Engineer and Information Technology.

Walton lives in Painted Post, New York with his wife, Robin Walton. They have two children: Nina Walton and Donnell Walton, Jr.

Donnell Thaddeus Walton was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 10, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.174

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/11/2013

Last Name

Walton

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Thaddeus

Occupation
Schools

University of Michigan

North Carolina State University

Frank Lemon Elementary School

South Mecklenburg High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Donnell

Birth City, State, Country

Mt. Clemens

HM ID

WAL19

Favorite Season

Spring, Summer

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

Sedona, Arizona

Favorite Quote

if I can't change the people I'm around, then I'll change the people I'm around.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

11/8/1966

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Painted Post

Country

United States

Favorite Food

None

Short Description

Physicist Donnell Walton (1966 - ) serves as manager of Worldwide Applications Program at Corning, Inc. where he authored fifteen patents and over sixty technical papers.

Employment

Corning Incorporated

Howard University

Favorite Color

Purple

Timing Pairs
0,0:7412,101:17112,192:34701,606:37850,689:41736,762:42004,767:47766,985:48168,992:48570,999:48838,1004:55516,1044:68864,1244:69788,1257:70327,1267:72637,1314:74639,1349:75486,1361:76410,1383:76795,1389:77411,1398:81428,1433:84316,1508:84772,1526:85304,1535:85760,1542:86140,1548:87052,1568:93446,1638:98713,1674:99849,1704:111054,1835:111670,1865:124634,2015:125132,2022:125464,2027:126460,2038:131568,2104:132006,2111:132736,2122:133101,2128:133758,2138:134269,2146:142808,2237:145624,2289:146592,2310:150464,2385:151344,2401:151872,2408:174059,2589:183500,2703:205987,2981:207625,3018:215032,3112:215304,3117:216460,3141:217140,3154:221240,3218:222140,3246:231422,3379:231835,3387:243618,3468:257382,3693:261760,3722$0,0:3200,51:3812,61:4288,69:5512,136:8164,201:10612,253:16436,279:16994,284:17490,293:18792,333:19040,338:19474,352:19908,360:20342,369:21272,447:21520,452:22016,462:22388,470:24310,514:24868,525:25550,535:27658,580:28154,589:32720,606:34514,633:35618,650:37343,692:39668,715:40604,733:41124,739:49362,862:49732,868:50398,878:54323,911:54628,917:54933,927:56031,950:56336,957:56702,964:57373,979:57922,994:67650,1079:74160,1227:74594,1238:76020,1275:79740,1355:86059,1416:86852,1435:87340,1446:87645,1452:87889,1457:88133,1462:88499,1469:88865,1477:89719,1496:90451,1509:90817,1517:91061,1522:91671,1539:92830,1566:94599,1608:95636,1623:96429,1646:97283,1670:98076,1686:98320,1691:98625,1697:103458,1715:105130,1737:106650,1761:116325,1915:116650,1921:121599,1997:125574,2011:129290,2104:130010,2116:131522,2162:134042,2176:134525,2184:136802,2232:137423,2243:137699,2248:143909,2400:144185,2405:150355,2449:151517,2467:163330,2649
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Donnell Walton's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Donnell Walton lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Donnell Walton describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Donnell Walton talks about his grandparents' long marriage and his grandmother's personality

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Donnell Walton talks about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Donnell Walton describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Donnell Walton talks about his relationship with his biological father

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Donnell Walton talks about how his parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Donnell Walton talks about the strong influence of his grandparents, and the impact of his first conversation with his biological father

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Donnell Walton talks about his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Donnell Walton describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Donnell Walton talks about his childhood neighborhood in New Haven, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 13 - Donnell Walton describes the sights and sounds and smells of growing up in New Haven, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 14 - Donnell Walton talks about his memories of Detroit, Michigan in the 1960s and 1970s

Tape: 1 Story: 15 - Donnell Walton describes his experience in elementary school

Tape: 1 Story: 16 - Donnell Walton talks about attending Greater New Hope Missionary Baptist Church in New Haven, Michigan

Tape: 1 Story: 17 - Donnell Walton talks about his childhood interest in sports and reading

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Donnell Walton talks about his interest in books

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Donnell Walton talks about the schools he attended, and his interest in sports

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Donnell Walton talks about his interest in boxing and reading, and his boxing heroes

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Donnell Walton describes his experience in school in New Haven, Michigan and Charlotte, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Donnell Walton talks about his motivation to study hard in school

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Donnell Walton talks about his grandparents' deaths

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Donnell Walton talks about his grandmother's buying him his first computer in 1981

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Donnell Walton talks about spending a lot of time alone as a child, and his early interest in science

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Donnell Walton talks about his family's pets in New Haven, Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Donnell Walton talks about his grandmother's death, and moving to Charlotte, North Carolina to live with his great-aunt

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - Donnell Walton describes his experience in high school in Charlotte, North Carolina and the influence of his guidance counselor, Ms. Dorothy Floyd

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - Donnell Walton talks about playing football in high school, and receiving an academic and track scholarship to attend North Carolina State University

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - Donnell Walton talks about how he was influenced by the Minority Introduction to Engineering (MITE) summer program at MIT

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Donnell Walton describes his experience at North Carolina State University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Donnell Walton talks about majoring in electrical engineering and physics at North Carolina State University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Donnell Walton talks about receiving an AT&T Cooperative Research Fellowship Program and his experience at Bell Laboratories

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Donnell Walton talks about his experience at Bell Laboratories

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Donnell Walton describes his decision to attend the University of Michigan to pursue his Ph.D. degree in physics, with support from Bell Laboratories

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Donnell Walton describes his Ph.D. dissertation research on optical fiber lasers and the applications of these lasers

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Donnell Walton talks about his mentors at Bell Laboratories and at the University of Michigan, and his research at Argonne National Laboratory

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Donnell Walton describes his experience at Howard University

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Donnell Walton talks about research infrastructure at Howard University, and the important place of scientists in African American history

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Donnell Walton talks about his contributions at Howard University and reflects upon the research programs and funding at HBCUs

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Donnell Walton describes how he was recruited to Corning, Incorporated

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Donnell Walton talks about the diversity in the workforce at Corning, Incorporated

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Donnell Walton describes his work on high-powered fiber lasers at Corning, Incorporated

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Donnell Walton talks about the development and applications of Gorilla glass

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Donnell Walton talks about his involvement with the marketing of Gorilla Glass at Corning, Incorporated, and the importance of communicating science

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Donnell Walton talks about his involvement with the marketing of Gorilla Glass, and about the different types of glass used in different products

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Donnell Walton describes how glass breaks

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Donnell Walton talks about his team of engineers and about how patents work

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - Donnell Walton talks about the various markets for Gorilla glass and his re-deployment at Corning, Incorporated

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Donnell Walton describes native damage resistance in Gorilla glass

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Donnell Walton talks about Corning's competitors and its market base

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Donnell Walton talks about returning to research and development at Corning, Incorporated, and the company's investment in R&D

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Donnell Walton shares his advice for scientists and engineers contemplating careers in industry

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Donnell Walton reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Donnell Walton describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Donnell Walton talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Donnell Walton talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - Donnell Walton talks about Corning's involvement in educational and mentoring programs for minorities

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

1$3

DATitle
Donnell Walton describes his experience at North Carolina State University
Donnell Walton talks about the diversity in the workforce at Corning, Incorporated
Transcript
Okay, North Carolina State University [Raleigh, North Carolina]. This is 1984?$$Yeah.$$Okay, 1984. This is a big--the year of "Run Jesse Run." And you know, so what was North Carolina--was that the year North Carolina State [University] won the basketball--$$No, it was one or two years before, I think. It was '82 [1982], maybe?$$Yeah, '82 [1982], or '83 [1983]. Yeah, I think you're right. With Dereck Whittenburg [college basketball player] and all those guys, yeah.$$Yeah.$$Alright.$$I don't know if you've seen it, but that--what was it--"30 for 30"--the thing they--the sports thing. They did this special on that. That was amazingly well done, very well done. Yeah, yeah. That was--so, I came there--similar to when I came to North Carolina--my high school [South Mecklenburg High School, Charlotte, North Carolina] was right off this huge championship. So, people were very full of NC [North Carolina] State when I got there.$$Okay.$$I wasn't a basketball fan, so I didn't really know that, until I got there.$$Alright. So, what was North Carolina State like? Was it a welcoming environment? What was it like for African American students?$$Yeah, so there was a lot of--like you mentioned--we had several African American coordinators there, to make sure--So, I was an electrical engineering major at that time. And we had an orientation only for, you know, a black freshman orientation, where you get to meet other, you know, people that would be your peers. So, it was--they worked hard. There were some key people there that worked hard to make it as welcoming as it could be. So, you end up making some very lifelong friends. [North Carolina] State [University] was a good place. It was different. It was big, but I felt prepared. Again, you know, I didn't want to lose again like I had done a couple summers before--or the summer before. So it turns out I was pretty well prepared, it turned out. My high school in Charlotte was--you know, prepared me pretty well. I made some really good friends in classes and on campus.$$Okay. I mean--were you involved in other campus activities other than your science courses?$$As a freshman? I was just running track, which was almost year round then. And just doing, yeah, just doing courses, not much as a freshman then. As a sophomore I ended up, you know, getting more involved in the Black Student Union, the Peer Mentor Program, becoming a mentor, pledging a fraternity, and stuff like that. So--$$Okay. What fraternity did you pledge?$$Omega.$$Okay, Omega Psi Phi, alright. So, were there any key teachers or counselors at--$$Yeah, so we had a guy in engineering. His name was Bobby Pettis. He was a minority coordinator, and he was instrumental--I still talk with friends about him.$$Is that P-E-T-T-U-S, or--$$I-S.$$Okay, I-S. Alright.$$Yeah. He was, he had intimate relationships with the students. He knew us well. He kept them honest. He, you know, made sure things--He did as much as he could to be almost like a family there, you know, in this huge environment. So, yeah. And then there was a woman--and then later I ended up adding physics as a major. And then that's another college. That's the College of Physical [and] Mathematical Sciences. So, his counterpart there is Wandra Hill, same thing. She's very--did as much as they could to make things welcoming and connect people.$$Wandra. W-A-N-D-R-A?$$Uh huh.$$Okay. So, are either one of them still there?$$Wandra Hill may have retired. And Mr. Pettis passed, I would say maybe in the--he must have passed in the eighties. I think she retired since I've been here [Corning, Inc., New York State]. So the last five or ten years, she must have retired.$Now, are you aware of something called, was it the Awareness Quality Improvement Team [at Corning, Incorporated, Elmira, New York]?$$At that time, the AQIT. Yes, absolutely.$$Okay. Now, tell us what that is, and what--$$Yeah. So like it's, it was an African American, what we call affinity groups. You know, it was, like what we were talking about earlier with the people at NC [North Carolina] State [University, Raleigh, North Carolina] who were trying to work to make it an inclusive environment. AQIT was started to make it a more inclusive--or the awareness--was to, to increase awareness of the presence of non--you know, underrepresented groups, particularly African Americans at that time. So, it was started, I guess, right around 198--, in the eighties. I think I want to say it was like '84 [1984], '85 [1985].$$Okay.$$And now, it's called the Black Technical Network. It got re-branded, but still doing the same things--trying to make a better environment, a more inclusive environment for everyone, starting with African Americans.$$Okay, okay. Now, so, so there was a community of African Americans here at--$$Small, it's grown. But it was--so it was, yeah, but absolutely, yeah. And it's a very--both inside the company and in the outside, external community. Most of us, since we all work for the same company, we all know each other. Our kids are the same age. So, actually, one of the ironies is that my wife and I moved here from Silver Spring, Maryland. And our neighborhood here is more diverse than our neighborhood was in Silver Spring, you know. I mean, not black. We have about six black families--it's a small neighborhood, six black families; many Asian families; Indian, Chinese, Korean. But whites may be, maybe 50 percent white. So, it's pretty interesting. But almost everyone in the neighborhood works for Corning.$$Okay. So, what would you say the percentage of black employees are?$$In the company, in the corporation?$$Uh huh.$$I'd put it at about maybe 7 percent.$$Okay, alright. That would be--that makes sense on some level, because it wouldn't reflect the blacks at 11 percent of the population of the country. But college graduates aside, those are, you know--technical people are much smaller.$$Right.$$So, Corning may be doing better than--$$Yeah, it's one of those best kept secrets. I think also--and of those 7 [percent]--most, the vast majority of us, I'd say somewhere around 80 percent of us are technical. I mean science and engineering, you know. And the other 20 [percent] is HR [human resources] and finance, but most of us are engineers.$$Okay, okay. That's interesting.

Peter Delfyett

Research scientist Peter J. Delfyett was born on March 8, 1959 in Queens, New York. He received his B.E. (E.E.) degree from the City College of New York in 1981 and his M.S. degree in electrical engineering from the University of Rochester in 1983. Delfyett then returned to the City University of New York and went on to graduate from there with his M. Phil. and Ph.D. degrees in 1987 and 1988, respectively.

In 1988, Delfyett joined Bell Communication Research (Bellcore) as a member of the technical staff where he focused on generating ultrafast high power optical pulses from semiconductor diode lasers. His research findings resulted in a number of important developments, including the world’s fastest, most powerful modelocked semiconductor laser diode, the demonstration of an optically distributed clocking network for high-speed, digital switches and supercomputer applications, and the first observation of the optical nonlinearity induced by the cooling of highly excited electron-hole pairs in semiconductor optical amplifiers. Delfyett has published over six-hundred articles in refereed journals and conference proceedings; been awarded thirty five United States Patents; and, is the sole proprietor of a license agreement which transferred modelocked semiconductor laser technology into a commercial product.

In 1993, Delfyett received a dual-appointment as a professor in the School College of Optics and Photonics and the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers (CREOL) at the University of Central Florida. From 1995 to 2006, he served as the Associate Editor of IEEE Photonics Technology Letters; was Executive Editor of IEEE LEOS Newsletter; and, served as the Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics. In 2008, Delfyett was elected to serve two terms as president of the National Society of Black Physicists.

Delfyett has been awarded the National Science Foundation’s Presidential Faculty Fellow Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, which is awarded to the nation’s top twenty young scientists. U.S. Black Engineer and Information Technology magazine recognized him in 1993 as “Most Promising Engineer;” and, in 2000 with the “Outstanding Alumnus Achievement.” In 2010, he received the Edward Bouchet Award from the American Physical Society. Delfyett is an elected Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America, and the IEEE Photonics Society.

Peter J. Delfyett was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 4, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.126

Sex

Male

Interview Date

6/4/2013

Last Name

Delfyett

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

John

Occupation
Schools

City University of New York

University of Rochester

Martin Van Buren High School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Peter

Birth City, State, Country

New York

HM ID

DEL10

Favorite Season

Christmas, Summer

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Caribbean

Favorite Quote

As you are walking across the path of life, if you come to a bump, step up.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Florida

Birth Date

3/8/1959

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Orlando

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Asian Food

Short Description

Electrical engineer Peter Delfyett (1959 - ) University Trustee Chair Professor in the College of Optics and Photonics and the Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers at the University of Central Florida, is an elected Fellow of the American Physical Society, the Optical Society of America, and the IEEE Photonics Society.

Employment

University of Central Flordia

Telcordia Technologies

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Peter Delfyett's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Peter Delfyett lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Peter Delfyett describes his mother's family background pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Peter Delfyett describes his father's family background pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Peter Delfyett talks about his parents' relationship and separation

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Peter Delfyett describes his family's personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Peter Delfyett talks about growing up in an extended family household

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Peter Delfyett talks about the Delfyetts

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Peter Delfyett describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Peter Delfyett describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Peter Delfyett talks about attending church during his youth

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Peter Delfyett talks about his elementary school

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Peter Delfyett talks about his childhood interest in paleontology and his questions about religion

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Peter Delfyett describes why he chose to become an electrical engineer

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Peter Delfyett talks about fifth grade elementary school teacher

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Peter Delfyett talks about his mentors in elementary and middle school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Peter Delfyett talks about his high school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Peter Delfyett describes how he learned to play the drums

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Peter Delfyett describes his band in high school

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Peter Delfyett describes graduating from high school and choosing to attend the City College of New York

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Peter Delfyett describes his time as a student at the City College of New York

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Peter Delfyett describes when he chose to specialize in optics

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Peter Delfyett talks about his undergraduate optics class

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Peter Delfyett describes why he came back to the City University of New York for his Ph.D.

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Peter Delfyett describes photonics

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Peter Delfyett describes his doctoral dissertation

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Peter Delfyett describes being hired by Bell Communications Research

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Peter Delfyett describes his time at Bell Communications Research

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Peter Delfyett describes how he broke the world record for the shortest and brightest light pulse

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Peter Delfyett describes how he solved the clock distribution problem

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Peter Delfyett talks about how it can take decades for an invention to be implemented

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Peter Delfyett explains why he chose to become a professor at the University of Central Florida

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Peter Delfyett talks about his teaching and research at the University of Central Florida

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Peter Delfyett talks about research funding and mentoring students

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Peter Delfyett talks about the future of technology

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Peter Delfyett talks about the future of holographic technology

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Peter Delfyett talks about his latest patent

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Peter Delfyett talks about his accomplishments at the University of Central Florida

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Peter Delfyett talks about his involvement in professional organizations

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Peter Delfyett gives advice to African American students

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Peter Delfyett reflects on his legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Peter Delfyett reflects on his life

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Peter Delfyett talks about his family

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Peter Delfyett describes his hobbies

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Peter Delfyett talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$5

DAStory

7$4

DATitle
Peter Delfyett describes when he chose to specialize in optics
Peter Delfyett talks about his teaching and research at the University of Central Florida
Transcript
You said when you were a sophomore, that's when you decided to get into the field of lasers.$$That's right.$$And what was it, again, that got you involved?$$And so the thing, you know, the thing which happened was--you know, you're going along. You're taking your classes, your physics, your calculus, your differential equations. And then you start taking your engineering core--circuit theory, digital systems control, communications, whatever it is. But then they allow you to take some, some elective classes, you know, within the discipline. And so, there are so many electives. How do you choose? And then my thinking is I want to sort of choose an elective where I'm going to have, like, a focus. I want to choose all of my electives in a certain area, so I can get a real strong expertise. So, I'm just sort of looking through the course catalog. It's like looking at the menu, and just kind of reading what the different courses are about. Some are about computer architecture. Some are about, you know, circuit systems and digital systems. But then I saw this one course about "Introduction to Lasers." And then you kind of read the description, and everything is fine. And you read the last line and it says, you know, "The fundamentals and introduction to fiber optic communications will be covered in this course." And you know, what occurred to me, is that there are sort of other areas within electrical engineering that are--at that time were not growing. And one in particular might be sort of power systems. How do you deliver power? Con Ed [Con Edison], and this and that, and the other thing. Not super high-tech, not saying it can't be. But then I'm thinking, you know, "Gee, if an area in engineering is so mature, you know, there's not a lot of area for growth and expansion." And so I'm thinking, "If I want to get an expertise in something, I want to pick an area which is very, very new and futuristic, so there's going to be a lot of chance for growth and expansion." Because as that field grows and expands, I can basically evolve within that, and manage to make my way through an entire career. That was my philosophy. Because if the field is too narrow and not growing--if things get tight and there's nowhere to grow--you know, where do you go? It's not clear. And it wasn't clear to me at that time. And so, that's how I started. And so, the other thing which really got me going, I took a look at the elective classes. It said electromagnetic theory. So I said, well, I'm already taking that. But another class was, you know, 'Introduction to Optics,' you know, physical optics. So I said, that was a prerequisite, not necessarily--excuse me--it wasn't a requirement, but it was sort of nice if you had taken it. So, the next semester I went and I took the optics class. And the guy who was teaching that is a famous laser physicist, who literally--you know, after having the class with him--that was it, I'm going to school to get a Ph.D. There was no turning back at that point. They had me hook, line and sinker.$$Okay.$How was your, I guess, your time split here [University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida], in terms of research and teaching responsibilities?$$Sure. And so, every faculty--we teach graduate courses. Or at least when I first came to CREOL [Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers], it was primarily an academic institution and research institution that focused on graduate training and education. So, all faculty teach graduate level courses in the area of optics, and we're all expected to do research. We're expected to go out and hustle for contracts and grants, of which from that money we then pay the graduate students' salaries, their tuition. We use the money to buy the equipment to allow us to do the job. So we're like standard faculty in most other departments. We have to teach, we have to do research, and we have service. Your service duties are either related to the department and/or college, and your professional service as a scientist with professional societies, etc. So, we're like just like normal faculty--teaching, research and service.$$Okay, okay. So, what have been some of your research projects here at [University of Central Florida, Orlando, Florida]--?$$So here, what I've done is I've tried to build a research group with a vision that if we want to make an impact on areas of application-- that what I wanted my philosophy to be is not what I'll call, device push-- like "Oh, here's a device, I think you need to use it." Well, like I'm pushing it on you. I prefer to have the application pull philosophy, meaning that let's take a look at what applications are out there that need some kind of advance. And then see if our research can play a role and allow our research to be pulled in that direction, so that if we're successful in our research, we can make some headway in that application. And so with that in mind, I've tried to divide my research area up into three groups--what I'll call sort of the fundamental physics--where we like to use, you know, short pulses of light and see how they interact with matter. That's the fundamental physics. We do that in semiconductors. And what we try and look for are new physics, so we can perhaps see new effects. So, we can then use that knowledge and then go into the clean room and make devices which can exploit these interesting effects, so these devices will have new functions. So, I study physics based upon the new things that we learn. We go up step up into the clean room. We fabricate new devices which are going to exploit those physics. So, these new devices will exhibit new functionalities. And with these new functions, I then take these devices that can show you functions, and I apply it in systems. And the systems are related to its communication and signal processing, making the internet go faster, etc. And when I see these new systems work faster, I say, "Great, we're successful." We patent along the way, we write papers, we give talks. And then once we do that, we say, "Okay, great, we solved that problem. What's the next problem?" And then we go back down and study new physics, to make more devices to make better impacts. So, instead of this thing being vertically integrated, I like to sort of say we're cyclically integrated between fundamental physics, devices and systems. And at each level there needs to be good communication back and forth between the fundamental physics and the systems area, between the systems and device area, and between the physics and device area. So, everybody knows what they're doing, and talking to each other so we can all learn from each other and push the overall vision of photonics forward. That's sort of my philosophy. That's how I do it. And again, we've made impacts in the area related towards secure communications, compact laser systems that are useful for material processing or drilling holes in walls, making lasers operate with more precision in atomic clocks, etc.

William Evans

Research physicist and research manager William J. Evans was born on September 16, 1965 in Chicago, Illinois to Billy Joe and Allie Bell Evans. He received his B.S. degree in physics from the California Institute of Technology. Evans went on to attend Harvard University, where he earned his S.M. degree and Ph.D. degrees in physics.

In 1995, Evans was hired as a full-time staff researcher at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). At LLNL, Evans works with scientists from multiple academic disciplines such as biology, chemistry, and physics to solve global problems. Although Evans received his education in physics, his work at LLNL encompasses aspects of physics, chemistry, and materials science. Such an interdisciplinary approach allowed him to understand the complex behavior of materials under high temperature and pressure conditions.

In 2008, Evans was promoted to research manager at LLNL, where he managed the research of all staff scientists in the high pressure physics group. The group’s research focused on ultrahigh-pressure diamond anvils, Raman spectroscopy, and X-ray scattering among other things. Evans and his team of LLNL research scientists built an anvil, or pressure device, using flattened diamonds as the pressure surface. These diamond anvils allowed Evans to determine what happens to other materials as they get “squashed” by the diamonds.

Evans has published numerous scientific research articles in journals such as, Physical Review, Nature Materials, and the International Journal of High Pressure Research. Evans is also a member of several academic and professional societies, including the American Physical Society (APS), the American Chemical Society (ACS), and the Optical Society of Americs. He serves the community by judging youth science fairs in Livermore, California where he works and lives.

William J. Evans was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 5, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.238

Sex

Male

Interview Date

11/5/2012

Last Name

Evans

Maker Category
Middle Name

J

Occupation
Schools

Harvard University

California Institute of Technology

Martin Luther King Elem. School

Angell School

Search Occupation Category
First Name

William

Birth City, State, Country

Ann Arbor

HM ID

EVA07

Favorite Season

Fall, Winter

State

Michigan

Favorite Vacation Destination

None

Favorite Quote

By Any Means Necessary.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

9/16/1965

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/Livermore

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cookies

Short Description

Physicist William Evans (1965 - ) was the head research scientist of the high pressure physics group at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California.

Employment

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
0,0:616,11:1056,21:6160,156:7392,185:14970,270:17012,280:21016,339:26752,422:29088,466:33984,545:34374,551:35700,574:42408,740:48788,802:49972,835:57558,971:58242,983:58698,990:64532,1101:65085,1109:65717,1124:66428,1141:66981,1149:79743,1350:85126,1431:94289,1639:97300,1645:97606,1652:105652,1814:106390,1824:116078,1992:116386,1997:120174,2037:120854,2048:121262,2056:122214,2076:122486,2081:125682,2158:126974,2190:128266,2224:128606,2230:135960,2322:142136,2396:143110,2406$0,0:3560,109:3780,114:4660,140:8912,167:13865,196:14165,201:16565,248:18290,287:18740,295:19415,309:20465,337:21065,350:21365,355:24650,371:29140,397:29828,407:30774,420:32580,447:34128,478:39756,513:40395,526:46230,633:46590,640:48150,695:48450,702:48750,708:48990,713:50850,765:57230,832:58573,852:59995,898:60311,903:61891,955:62760,972:63471,993:63866,999:69027,1039:71841,1099:72377,1109:73114,1131:73784,1143:75392,1186:76397,1208:77335,1229:85173,1358:85528,1364:87587,1418:88652,1439:89291,1451:89788,1459:96193,1536:96408,1542:96666,1550:97225,1567:97655,1576:97956,1584:100859,1614:101154,1620:101567,1629:101980,1637:102275,1643:102511,1648:102747,1653:103573,1682:104989,1720:105402,1728:107172,1780:108411,1820:109001,1833:109827,1861:110476,1874:110889,1882:111243,1889:116182,1915:118560,1943:118840,1948:119330,1957:120310,1987:121850,2030:122270,2037:123530,2061:123880,2067:124160,2072:124580,2079:124860,2087:128005,2109:128685,2118:130130,2140:130980,2156:145946,2407:147226,2437:147674,2446:147930,2451:148186,2456:154570,2564:155641,2586:157972,2654:158350,2662:160933,2727:161311,2739:161563,2744:162319,2758:162823,2765:163957,2782:164272,2788:173047,2908:173544,2916:173899,2922:174254,2928:174751,2937:176171,2972:180330,2990
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of William Evans' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - William Evans lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - William Evans describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - William Evans describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - William Evans describes where his father attended college and graduate school

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - William Evans talks about his family

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - William Evans talks about his father's career as a scientist

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - William Evans describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - William Evans describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - William Evans talks about his growing up near the University of Michigan

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - William Evans talks about his study routine

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - William Evans talks about his elementary school experience

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - William Evans talks about his experiences while growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - William Evans talks about having access to his father's chemistry lab as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - William Evans talks about living in Germany

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - William Evans talks about his family as well as his brother's death

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - William Evans describes how he chose to attend the California Institute of Technology

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - William Evans talks about his growing up during high school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - William Evans talks about his accomplished parents

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - William Evans talks about his high school experience

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - William Evans talks about some of his professors at the California Institute of Technology

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - William Evans talks about the physics program at the California Institute of Technology

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - William Evans talks about the impact of emerging information technologies on physics

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - William Evans talks about his studies at California Institute of Technology

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - William Evans talks about his decision to attend Harvard University for graduate school

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - William Evans talks about his experience at Harvard University

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - William Evans describes his dissertation about the behavior of hydrogen

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - William Evans talks about his dissertation and Carl Sagan

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - William Evans talks about his work at Lawrence Livermore Laboratory

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - William Evans describes his work with beryllium

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - William Evans talks about his experience working at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - William Evans talks about the lack of minority representation in the physical sciences

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - William Evans talks about the work culture at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - William Evans talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - William Evans talks about the uses of metalized hydrogen

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - William Evans talks about his desire to support underrepresented communities

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - William Evans reflects upon his career

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - William Evans talks about his mentors

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - William Evans describes his legacy

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - William Evans talks about what he would like to see accomplished in the future

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - William Evans talks about his family

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - William Evans talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$4

DAStory

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DATitle
William Evans describes his dissertation about the behavior of hydrogen
William Evans talks about the work culture at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
Transcript
Okay, now, could you explain your dissertation to us, I mean just state it again, and kind of explain what you were actually doing?$$So, so hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, and, in fact, it's what drives, you know, our sun, fuses hydrogen together generates energy in a helium atom. And so what we were studying was what does hydrogen do? So under normal conditions, hydrogen is a gas. But if you cool it or you compress it, it turns into a liquid, and if you continue to compress it, it turns into a solid. One of the early predictions of quantum theory was that hydrogen would metalize. So it would go from being an insulator, you know, the plastic cladding on a wire is insulators, the electricity doesn't, it doesn't pass electricity. But compressing it would force the electrons on the different atoms together. And they'd start being shared, and you can now pass a current through this material. And so it becomes a metal. And so the goal of the thesis work was to metalize hydrogen. That was the kind of ultimate goal of my thesis advisor. I worked on that for several years. It's a very challenging problem that, to this day, hasn't been adequately solved. But we did, we made some good progress on it, although we did not metal hydrogen. But we made some measurements along the way of how the index for a fraction of hydrogen changes under pressure. So the (unclear) [index?] fraction tells you, I mean one simple way to think of it, it's a, it's an indicator of the electronic properties of the materials, but effectively, it, in common experience, it'll tell you how light gets bent when it goes, passes into it. So, for example, when you look at a prism, if you have a white light coming into a prism, it hits the prism, and the different colors of light get bent different angles, different, depending on index of a fraction. And that's kind of a layman's explanation of what we measured, but we measured the (unclear) fraction of hydrogen high pressure, which--so this data helps you understand when it might metalize. It also allows you to valuate theories that predict how hydrogen is behaving at high pressure. So it's experimental data that's very important in the sense that it lets you understand if your theories are even close to being correct, and once, and also quantifying the quality of various theories to explain properties of materials.$Okay, okay.$$Livermore [Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory] is actually, Livermore won an award, I think last year for being one of the best employers for African Americans. I find Livermore very supportive, but I'm, I'm kind of saddened that Livermore is, is--I think Livermore is doing a solid job. I would have hoped there were people doing even better job than Livermore is doing at, at engaging, encouraging, utilizing underrepresented groups. So I'm, it's kind of, kind of--I'm glad Livermore got an award, but I wish the bar were a lot higher.$$Okay, so the general landscape is--$$Yeah, yeah. You know, and there are little things. I mean when I went to Livermore [California], when I first went there, I was coming from the East Coast. East Coast people wore a tie and coat to work. And, you know, there was, one told, a bus driver, told me, you know, what are you doing wearing that stuff? You don't wear, you don't need to wear that here, as if, you know, I mean I was a staff scientist. Early on in the, within the first year I was at Livermore, we have rooms where we store supplies, like, you know, pens, binders and things. And I was in there getting, I had just started so I was getting stuff for my office, and one of the scientist walks by and says, you know, we, we're running out of pens. Can you get some more pens? You'd think that if you're wearing a tie and coat, it's kind of a sign that you're not part of the support staff. But, you know, these little comments, for me it didn't, it didn't--I would like to think that in my case, it doesn't bother me. But I have little doubt that for someone who's much more junior, let's say a graduate student, who's working at the lab, if someone comes in and treats them like they're a maintenance person, they're not gonna be, you know, it's not the kind of environment that is conducive to keeping people there and advancing their careers. Now, none of this came from the management. The management's always very constructive. And it has been always very supportive. But I think it's really more an indication of kind of societal prejudices and biases that we need to work on.$$Okay, okay. So you've been there your whole career, so--$$Yeah.$$--you really don't have another place, I guess, to compare it to--$$Right.$$--in terms of that, but you said, Livermore [Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory], according to reports--$$Yeah.$$--is--$$And they had been very supportive. I mean, you know, when I, when I served on the APS Committee on Minorities, there had to be an account to pay for my time when I was doing that work. And the management was, it wasn't even an issue for them. They were, definitely do it, you know. They've always been very supportive of hiring underrepresented staff members. So the management at Livermore has been very, very supportive, but I think there are, there're, you know, our society still isn't where we think it is (laughter), where we'd like for it to be.

Herbert Winful

Electrical Engineer Herbert Winful was born on December 12, 1952 in London, England and raised in Cape Coast, Ghana in West Africa. His father Herbert Francis was an engineer, and his mother Margaret Ferguson Graves was a teacher. As a child Winful was mesmerized by lasers and often dreamed of developing his own. As a sophomore attending MIT Winful was mentored by Dr. Hermann A. Haus – National Medal of Science honoree and pioneer in the field optical communications. Winful received his B.S. degree in electrical engineering in the 1975 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1981, he graduated from the University of Southern California earning his Ph.D. degree in electrical engineering. Dr. Joh Marburger – former science advisor to President George H.W. Bush – guided Winful’s groundbreaking work on non-periodic structures.

From 1980 to 1986, Winful worked at GTE Laboratories (now Verizon Laboratories) in Waltham, Massachusetts. The Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences (EECS) department at University of Michigan hired Winful as an associate professor in 1987. Through research and teaching he made fundamental contributions to multiple sub-disciplines in hid field: nonlinear fiber optics, nonlinear optics in periodic structures and nonlinear dynamics of laser arrays, propagation of single-cycle pulses. was promoted to full professor in 1992, and one year later the University of Michigan promoted him to an endowed professorship – Thurnau Professor. Throughout his career Winful studied problems involving the relationship between laser arrangement and production of power. Winfield most significant scholarly achievement was solving the scientific paradox of quantum tunneling time.

Winful’s contributions have been recognized by professional and academic organizations. He was named a Fellow of the Optical Society of America and the American Physical Society and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers. The University of Michigan recognized Winful with the Amoco/University Teaching Award, the State of Michigan Teaching Award and the EECS Professor of the Year Award.

Herbert Winful was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on 10/23/2012.

Accession Number

A2012.181

Sex

Male

Interview Date

10/23/2012

Last Name

Winful

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Occupation
Schools

Catholic Jubilee School

St. Augustine's College

Lehigh University

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

University of Southern California

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Herbert

Birth City, State, Country

London

HM ID

WIN08

Favorite Season

Fall

Favorite Vacation Destination

Paris, France

Favorite Quote

For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but a spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Michigan

Birth Date

12/3/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Ann Arbor

Country

England

Favorite Food

Seafood

Short Description

Electrical engineer Herbert Winful (1952 - ) , former director and professor of materials research at Howard University, is professor emeritus of electrical engineering at the University of Michigan.

Employment

GTE Laboratories

University of Michigan

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Herbert Winful's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Herbert Winful lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Herbert Winful describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Herbert Winful talks about his maternal grandfather

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Herbert Winful talks about schools in Ghana during his grandparent's time

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Herbert Winful talks about his mother growing up in Gold Coast, Ghana

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Herbert Winful describes his father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Herbert Winful talks about Ghana's matrilineal society

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Herbert Winful describes the Fantes

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Herbert Winful talks about the history of slave trade in Ghana

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Herbert Winful describes Fante names

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Herbert Winful talks about having to navigate the cultures of Ghana and Great Britain

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Herbert Winful describes his father's education

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Herbert Winful talks about his parents' courtship

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

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Herbert Winful talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Herbert Winful talks about his memories of Ghanian President Kwame Nkrumah

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Herbert Winful describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Herbert Winful describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Herbert Winful describes the duality of growing up both as a Catholic and as a Fante

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Herbert Winful describes being educated under the British system of education

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Herbert Winful describes his interest in math and engineering

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Herbert Winful talks about the interest in Ghanian culture in salvaging parts of things

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Herbert Winful describes learning about science

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Herbert Winful talks about the Volta Region

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Herbert Winful describes meeting the Russian female astronaut Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman to go into space

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Herbert Winful describes his high school, St. Augustine's College

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Herbert Winful talks about his memories of the coup of Ghanian President Kwame Nkrumah

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Herbert Winful talks about taking calculus in high school

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Herbert Winful compares the American and British educational systems

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Herbert Winful describes his graduation from St. Augustine's High School

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Herbert Winful talks about why he chose Lehigh University for his first year of college

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Herbert Winful describes his interest, idols and involvement in music while in high school

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Herbert Winful describes his arrival in the United States to attend Lehigh University

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Herbert Winful describes his experience at Lehigh University

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Herbert Winful talks about his mentors at Lehigh University

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Herbert Winful describes his transfer from Lehigh University to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he worked on lasers

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Herbert Winful describes Massachusetts Institute of Technology's African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Herbert Winful describes his decision to attend the University of Southern California for graduate school

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Herbert Winful describes his doctoral dissertation on nonlinear optics pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Herbert Winful describes his doctoral dissertation on nonlinear optics pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Herbert Winful talks about his research at GTE Labs

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Herbert Winful describes his decision to teach at the University of Michigan

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Herbert Winful talks about leaders in non-linear optics pt. 1

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Herbert Winful talks about the leaders in nonlinear optics pt. 2

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Herbert Winful talks about optical phase conjugation

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Herbert Winful describes his research and teaching at the University of Michigan

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Herbert Winful describes his research on laser arrays and coupling fiber lasers

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Herbert Winful discusses the applications of his research

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Herbert Winful describes the future of lasers

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Herbert Winful talks about his work with STEM education

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Herbert Winful suggests a question for young scientists

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Herbert Winful talks about his current research on coupling fiber lasers

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Herbert Winful describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community pt. 1

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Herbert Winful describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community pt. 2

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Herbert Winful reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Herbert Winful reflects on his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Herbert Winful talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Herbert Winful describes his relationship with the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Herbert Winful describes his extracurricular activities

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Herbert Winful talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Herbert Winful describes his photographs

DASession

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DATape

3$5

DAStory

5$5

DATitle
Herbert Winful describes learning about science
Herbert Winful describes his doctoral dissertation on nonlinear optics pt. 2
Transcript
I was, I was actually a very good student. From the earliest times I can remember from the first grade onwards, I seemed to be always like at the top of the class. I did well in math, in English, in pretty much every--every subject. I thought--I thought it was just, you know, normal, you know, people who, you know, who studied and you did well. So I didn't know whether it was hereditary or what. Now, my mother [Margaret Ferguson Graves] also encouraged, you know, learning, and as a school teacher, she would come home in the evenings and after dinner, we'd all sit around the table, after she cleared off the plates and she would get to work, like, you know, grading her students' papers, and we would sit there doing our homework. So we all sat there and worked. And that was just a habit, you know, getting things done, reading and studying, doing your homework.$$Now, was it a, was it a--you were fully aware that your father was an engineer?$$Yes, yeah--$$Did this give you--encourage you to--because very few people can point to that, you know.$$Yes, and in fact, my father, I think, once or twice, took me to the worksite of the Volta River Project during the construction. So I saw the dam while it was being built, I saw the huge man-made lake formed after they had dammed the Volta River. He actually took me--we walked down one of these huge pan stalks that, you know, bring the water down to turn the other turbines, the generator. It was the most amazing thing. I said, "Wow, so this is what engineers do," you know, and I think that also really fed into my--my early interest in engineering and in science, oh yeah, and also an important influence. And then I had an uncle, too. We called him Uncle Principal, a brother of my mother. He was a principal of teacher's training school. And I remember he gave me once a book called '101 Experiments You Can Do At Home.' I think I was about maybe 10 years old or so, and that book became my favorite book, you know, I proceeded to do all these experiments in the kitchen, making things that might, you know, explode. Those were the fun parts, the things that blew up. But yeah, it was really so much fun.$$So, you had like two, you know, sort of role models, two men you knew were into science, and some of the women. You had your father being an engineer of this huge project.$$Yeah.$You know, a periodic structure, you know, this is something that repeats itself. And so you can imagine stacking up layers of say glass and glass plates, and let's say one glass plate has a certain refracted index; refracted index tells you how light bends or how light gets slowed down in the medium; let's say you have one medium, one glass plate with a set of refracted index "A", another one with a refracted index "B", so you stack them alternately, AB, AB, AB, so you have, you know, a periodic stack. It turns out that such a periodic structure has interest in properties in the sense that it acts as a filter so that certain--only certain wave lengths will pass through, only certain colors will go through, and the rest will get reflected. So, it has, what we would call "a stop band," it stops, let's say, a red light from going through, but other colors can go through. Now, when you see butterflies in lovely iridescent colors, those--those colorations arise from tiny periodic structures that are organized in the wings and they reflect different colors. So, the idea I had was, what if light--you send in light that's intense enough to change the refracted index of those periodic structure. Well, then, if the light is strong enough, it can tune the stop band, it can tune the colors that can pass through and those that can reject it. So, if I had low intensity, if I had lower intensity light, that red light would get through, as I increase the intensity, it gets to a point where that red light can no longer get through; it all gets reflected. So, it would have an intensity dependent refracted index, and that can lead to various interesting applications like all optical switching and use as a digital optical computant element, so that was the start of the field of study, and that's something I did while I was a graduate student. Now, the other one that you mentioned, having to do with the speed of light, that relates to a phenomenon called tunneling, tunneling through a barrier, and that's work that I did more recently, yeah, in Michigan.$$Okay. Well, we can maybe wait until we get to that.$$Okay.$$With your dissertation, you finished in 19--$$1981, yeah, uh-huh.$$--'81 [1981], okay.

Wendell Hill

Physicist and Professor Wendell T. Hill, III was born in 1952 in Berkeley, California to Wendell Hill, Jr. and Marcella Washington Hill, who met at Drake University in the 1940s. In the 1960s his father was the Chief Pharmacist at in the Orange County Medical Center, now the University of California Irvine Medical Center, and finished his career as the dean of Howard University’s College of Pharmacy in the 1990s. Hill III’s mother was a mathematics teacher who finished her career at the University of the District of Columbia. Hill III graduated from Villa Park High School in Orange, CA in 1970. He earned physics degrees from the University of California, Irvine (B.A., 1974) and Stanford University (Ph.D., 1980), where he was an IBM pre-doctoral fellow.

Hill was a National Research Council postdoctoral fellow at the National Bureau of Standards, now the National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST) from 1980 to 1982, after which he joined the faculty of the Institute for Physical Science and Technology (IPST) at the University of Maryland. In 1985 Hill was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Presidential Young Investigator Award, now known as a Presidential Early Career Award. Holding appointments in Physics and the Institute for Physical Science and Technology, Hill became a full professor in 1996 and a Fellow of the Joint Quantum Institute in 2006. Hill has guest-worker status at NIST and Lawrence Livermore National Lab and has held visiting positions at the Université de Paris, Orsay in France, the Instituto Venezalano de Investigaciones (Venezuela) and JILA (University of Colorado). He directed the Laboratory for Atomic, Molecular & Optical Science, and Engineering at the University of Maryland between 1999 and 2002 and was the Program Director of the Atomic, Molecular and Optical (AMO) Physics program at NSF from 2010 to 2012.

Hill’s research focus is laser-matter interaction under extreme conditions – ultra-fast, ultra-intense and ultra-cold. Hill has written numerous scientific articles within AMO physics, co-authored the textbook entitled Light-Matter Interaction that explains the underlying principals of AMO research and penned the opening chapter entitled “Electromagnetic Radiation,” for the Encyclopedia of Applied Spectroscopy.

Hill is a fellow of the American Physical Society (APS) and the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP) as well as an active member of the Optical Society of America (OSA). He has served on numerous society committees including the APS Council and Executive Board, the APS Division of Laser Science executive committee, and the OSA Technical Council; he has chaired the National Academy of Science’s Committee on AMO Science along with several program and award committees. His interest in improving the diversity in physics has him serving on the National Advisory Board of the APS Minority Bridge Program; the goal of the program is to increase significantly the number of “underrepresented minorities” earning a physics Ph.D. over the next decade.

Professor Hill and Patricia, his wife, live in Maryland and have three children, Nayo, Eshe and Safiya.

Professor Wendell T. Hill, III was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 12, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.226

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/12/2012

Last Name

Hill

Maker Category
Middle Name

T

Occupation
Schools

Peralta Junior High School

Taft Elementary School

Burnside Elementary School

Villa Park High School

University of California, Irvine

Stanford University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Wendell

Birth City, State, Country

Berkeley

HM ID

HIL14

Favorite Season

Summer

State

California

Favorite Vacation Destination

California

Favorite Quote

Have fun and be safe.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

9/21/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Mexican Food, Spicy Food, Fish

Short Description

Physicist Wendell Hill (1952 - ) was known for his extensive research in atomic, molecular and optical physics at the University of Maryland.

Employment

University of Maryland, College Park

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

University of Colorado

Favorite Color

Los Angeles Dodgers Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Wendell Hill's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Wendell Hill lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Wendell Hill describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Wendell Hill talks about his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Wendell Hill talks about his mother's educational background and career

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Wendell Hill describes his father's family background and their relation to Fredrick Douglass - part 1

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Wendell Hill describes his father's family background and their relation to Fredrick Douglass - part 2

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Wendell Hill talks about his father's growing up

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Wendell Hill talks about how his parents met and his father's education

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Wendell Hill talks about his earliest memory of Southern California

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Wendell Hill describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Wendell Hill talks about his brother and childhood neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Wendell Hill talks about his childhood church, friends and social activities

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Wendell Hill talks about his nursery and elementary schools

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Wendell Hill describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Wendell Hill talks about his parents' involvement in his schooling

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Wendell Hill compares the demographics of Los Angeles with that of Orange County

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Wendell Hill talks about his parents' move to Orange County, California

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Wendell Hill talks about the racial tensions in Orange County

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Wendell Hill talks about his early academic struggles

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Wendell Hill talks about his high school experience

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Wendell Hill talks about his science preparation during his early education

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Wendell Hill talks about Disneyland and Knott Berry Farm during his childhood

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Wendell Hill talks about his interest in rockets, space exploration, and solar eclipses

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Wendell Hill talks about his family activities

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Wendell Hill talks about his favorite high school teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Wendell Hill talks about his interest in baseball

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Wendell Hill talks about Martin Luther King's assassination, the demographics of his high school and his grades

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Wendell Hill talks about his attempt to connect with the Black community through music

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Wendell Hill talks about his struggle to integrate into the black community

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Wendell Hill talks about his struggle to integrate into the black community and his religious development

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Wendell Hill talks about his involvement with the black community at the University of California, Irvine

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Wendell Hill talks about reconciling science and religion

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Wendell Hill talks about his studies at the University of California, Irvine

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Wendell Hill talks about his professors at the University of California, Irvine

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Wendell Hill reflects on his experience at the University of California, Irvine

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Wendell Hill talks about his advisors at Stanford University

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Wendell Hill talks about his dissertation in the area of laser physics and how he met his wife

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Wendell Hill talks about his religious identity

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Wendell Hill discusses the varying religious affiliations of scientists

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Wendell Hill talks about his post-doctoral work at the National Bureau of Standards

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Wendell Hill talks about his decision to join the faculty at the University of Maryland

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Wendell Hill talks about the economic disparities between underdeveloped countries and developed countries- part 1

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Wendell Hill talks about the economic disparities between underdeveloped countries and developed countries, part 2

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Wendell Hill talks about his visiting appointments in Maryland and Paris

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Wendell Hill talks about his transition into teaching

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Wendell Hill talks about his work with cold atoms at the University of Colorado

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Wendell Hill talks about his professional activities at the University of Maryland

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Wendell Hill talks about the Joint Quantum Institute and his textbook, "Light-Matter Interaction"

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Wendell Hill talks about his research - part 1

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Wendell Hill talks about his research - part 2

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Wendell Hill talks about his students and the reception of his book

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Wendell Hill talks about the need for more African Americans in STEM

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Wendell Hill talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Wendell Hill reflects on his life choices

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Wendell Hill talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - Wendell Hill reflects on his legacy

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Wendell Hill talks about how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Wendell Hill describes his photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$5

DAStory

7$6

DATitle
Wendell Hill talks about his professional activities at the University of Maryland
Wendell Hill talks about his post-doctoral work at the National Bureau of Standards
Transcript
You became a full professor here in '96' [1996], I take it, that's right?$$Sounds about right, yeah.$$Okay, alright, so in 1999, you became the director of the laboratory for Atomic Molecular and Optical Science and Engineering.$$Yeah, we had a, we had a small lab that no longer exists now. There was, several of us, we got together, and we formed this lab, and this was a way for us to sort of work together. At the time, there was much less atomic, molecular and optic physics on this campus. It's much broader now and much larger than it was then. And so, those of us working in that area tried to form this lab together and so I was, I was, I guess the second director of that. And, but it, it sort of, I mean we had a little group, but then we all started going our separate ways. And so that, that lab no longer exists now. The thing that, it's more along the lines that we were trying to start then is this, this Joint Quantum Institute that, that currently exists. But it was, it was a way to bring the atomic physicists and atomic, molecular, optical physicists together.$$Okay, so, but, okay, Joint Quantum Institute doesn't start till about 2006, right?$$Yes, right, right.$$So, so this, so did this ever last, the atomic molecular optical science lab last for ten years or--$$No, no, no. It, that probably lasted, oh, another three or four years after--probably about three years that we actively worked together. And then we all sort of started going different ways. I mean we put the book together. My, we wrote a book, and so some of us who were in that lab put the book together. We actually, there's a two-volume book. Four of us together wrote these two volumes. So Chi Lee and I--Chi was in electrical engineering. He was part of this lab. He and I wrote the second volume at the time. There's a guy in, in chemistry, John Weiner, who was the first director of this lab. And a guy, another guy in engineering, Ping Tong Ho wrote the first volume. And so this two-volume set came out of that, that laboratory. And they're sort of textbooks designed for first-year graduate students, sort of upper division undergraduates to, on atomic, molecular and optical physics.$$Okay, now, in, was it around 2006 that you initiated the collaboration between University of Maryland and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory? Is that true?$$It was probably before that. I'm trying to think of when we started. Yeah, it may have been the mid-2000s. Yeah, I have a colleague. We used to go to, we, we first met at, at the, one of the annual meetings of the society of, National Society of Black Physicists. And we'd always say, oh, we should do something together. And so we, we did, we, we said these things for a number of years. And then some money became available and so we put in a proposal and got funded. And so I sent a student out to, to work with him. So, yeah, it was in mid-2000s, I guess, that, that came about. And so, yeah, we, collab--I collaborated out there, and the student is still writing his thesis. And so we still sort of have a loose collaboration, and if we find the right student, we'll continue that.$Oh, okay, alright. Alright, so, alright, so post-doctoral studies. Now, you--$$Okay, post-doc, so okay. I came to, and my wife and I decided that-we, we had sort of this binary problem where she was, had just gone to the J school, the Journalism school at Columbia [University], and so she was, wanted to be a journalist. And so we had a couple of options. She was working at a, a news service in the Bay area, "Bay City News Service" was the name of it at the time. And so we could either go--well, we were looking at three different options, going to, going to Bell Labs area, which would be, you know, either in Murray Hill or Homedale, New Jersey, going to, coming here to Washington, D.C., what was then the Bureau of Standards, now NIST [National Institute of Standards and Technology] or going to Chicago where I had an offer from a guy named Charlie Rhodes who was at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He used to be at SRI which used to be called Stanford Research Institute, but it was split off from Stanford back in the '70's [1970s] because of, they did do some classified stuff. So it just assumed the name SRI. So he moved from SRI there. So I knew who he was and knew some of the people who worked with him. And so I got invited to come there. We ultimately ended up choosing to come to Washington because my parents, who spent seven years in Detroit--my father at Wayne State [University] and at Detroit General Hospital, then moved to Howard [University] to become the dean of the pharmacy school there. And so having not lived with my parents for almost ten years, I thought--lived near my parents for almost ten years, we thought well, it would be kind of fun to be close to them. We fully intended to go back to California within a couple of years, and so that two-year period hasn't come up yet, 'cause we--that in 1980 when we first got here (laughter). So I came here. I, I did a post-doc. I was what was known as a National Research Council post-doc at, at Bureau of Standards and worked when they, out at the facility here in Gaithersburg [Maryland], and so I did a lot of laser spectroscopy type things there. And from there I went on to, to the University of Maryland because again, we had this binary thing that my wife, during my post-doc years had a job. And so I didn't wanna displace her and Washington is a good place to get both of us working at the same time. So we decided that, well, you know, maybe I should just, at least for the time being, try to get, launch my career here at Maryland. And so I came over here. I had, had an offer here to, to work. So.$$So you were in the National Bureau of Standards in Gaithersburg, right?$$In Gaithersburg, that's correct.$$Okay, now, what were you working on at the Bureau of Standards?$$Well, I was in what's known as the Vacuum Ultraviolet Spectroscopy group or, or, I guess it was part of the radiation physics division. And so they had a technique, two, two gentlemen who hired me basically, had a technique for looking at spectroscopy of ions. And they did this by taking a laser and creating this long column of ions, which is very, highly unusual. And so that opened up a whole area of being able to do spectroscopy on species that you couldn't do before. And so my, my thesis topic, which was basically doing things that you couldn't do before on species because of a technique, this was another technique. So I worked on that technique and, and worked on a variety of experiments along those lines. So, again, doing sort of spectroscopy, this time on ions, and which you couldn't do absorption, absorption spectroscopy on ions before 'cause you'd never get enough of them in one spot to do that. So, that was what I've done. And then I started developing new techniques as I was thinking of moving on to, to Maryland. I missed looking, using continuous wave lasers, which is what I did all my thesis work on, continuous wave lasers. These lasers added, were repulsed lasers. And, and so I started doing techniques which got me back toward doing continuous wave lasers which is sort of what I'm doing now.

Darnell Eugene Diggs

Research physicist Darnell Eugene Diggs was born on May 20, 1970, in Tuskegee, Alabama to Janie Mae Davenport Diggs and John Diggs. Diggs and his twin sister were the youngest in a family of fifteen children. Diggs attended Pike County Elementary School and Pike County High School, where he was registered in advanced placement classes and played the trumpet in the school marching band.

Diggs followed in his family’s tradition by enrolling at Alabama A&M University in Normal, Alabama. While a freshman, he majored in business management and sang in the university choir. Diggs changed his major to physics at the end of his sophomore year after performing well in a physical science class and graduated with his B.S. degree in physics in 1988. Inspired by members of the National Conference of Black Physics Students and the Society of Physics Students where he served as president, Diggs remained at Alabama A&M University where he earned his M.S. degree in physics in 1997. After internships at the University of Wisconsin and the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama, Diggs earned his Ph.D. degree in physics in 2001. Diggs was hired by the United States Air Force Research Laboratory as a research physicist in 2002; there, he worked to improve polymer-based electro-optic modulators that provide critical advantages over devices made from other materials. Through his work, Diggs collaborated with Tyndall Air Force Base, Georgia Tech Research Institute, the Army Strategic Missile Command, the University of Dayton, and Alabama A&M University.

In 2004, Diggs received the Black Engineer of the Year Award in the category of Promising Scientist in Government. Science Spectrum Magazine named Diggs one of the 50 Most Important Blacks in Research Science in 2004, and a Top Minority in Science in 2005. The World Year of Physics 2005 also recognized Diggs as one of five Distinguished African American Physicists. In 2006, Diggs was invited to speak at the U.S. Air Force & Taiwan Nanoscience Initiative held in Taipei, Taiwan. In 2007, he became president of the Dayton Alumni Extension for the National Society of Black Engineers. Diggs also served as an ordained Elder in the Church of God in Christ.

Darnell Eugene Diggs was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 25, 2008.

Accession Number

A2008.028

Sex

Male

Interview Date

2/25/2008

Last Name

Diggs

Maker Category
Middle Name

Eugene

Occupation
Schools

Pike County High School

Pike County Elementary School

Alabama A&M University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Darnell

Birth City, State, Country

Tuskegee

HM ID

DIG01

Favorite Season

Christmas

Sponsor

National Science Foundation

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

Sydney, Australia

Favorite Quote

I can, and I will.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Ohio

Birth Date

5/20/1970

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Dayton

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Green Beans

Short Description

Physicist Darnell Eugene Diggs (1970 - ) worked at the United States Air Force Research Laboratory, on the United States Air Force's development of new optoelectronic devices.

Employment

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

Main Sponsor
Main Sponsor URL
Favorite Color

Blue, Brown

Timing Pairs
0,0:5251,104:5607,109:7921,234:11214,307:11659,313:12638,325:13706,338:14151,344:18423,412:26779,495:30500,515:34820,648:39700,798:45560,844:46169,853:50519,908:52085,926:53042,939:56087,988:56696,997:59393,1045:60263,1056:66474,1082:66929,1088:83075,1269:83675,1278:86000,1327:89284,1367:89900,1376:90285,1383:97985,1559:98524,1568:99140,1575:100372,1597:101219,1610:101835,1619:119425,1903:119936,1911:120593,1921:121907,1941:122564,1951:127254,1970:134476,2075:135214,2085:144080,2241:154420,2337:155300,2347:158648,2366:161097,2413:165580,2473$0,0:8174,94:10126,122:17890,161:18310,167:19234,183:19570,188:21418,209:22510,225:22846,230:24694,253:30282,318:30612,324:30876,329:31470,339:32064,349:32592,358:33054,366:33318,371:33582,376:42344,462:42956,478:43296,483:44180,497:44656,505:46968,549:47648,560:48056,567:48532,575:51380,596:61384,745:69217,835:70883,856:90454,1145:92148,1195:92610,1202:97230,1274:98154,1290:98539,1296:111437,1439:113112,1464:113715,1475:114184,1480:115122,1503:115524,1510:118807,1585:119075,1590:119343,1595:121353,1656:122090,1668:122492,1686:126043,1765:127182,1787:133340,1854:137798,1921:139072,1935:148895,2061:149220,2067:151560,2146:151950,2153:152470,2162:152795,2168:155410,2190:156434,2217:157074,2227:158098,2249:163794,2357:168210,2466:171026,2527:172050,2545:173906,2591:174162,2596:184586,2728:200660,3065:201650,3078:207790,3124:210850,3167:219830,3316:220382,3347:226592,3456:227006,3467:227558,3477:228731,3509:231077,3597:234872,3657:236252,3691:236528,3696:237908,3701:243690,3769
DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Darnell Diggs' interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Darnell Diggs shares his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Darnell Diggs talks about his mother's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Darnell Diggs talks about his mother's upbringing

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Darnell Diggs talks about his father

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Darnell Diggs recalls how the Civil Rights Movement influenced his family

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Darnell Diggs talks about his childhood neighborhood and home

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Darnell Diggs describes his childhood activities

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Darnell Diggs talks about his participation in church during his youth

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Darnell Diggs describes his childhood school experience

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Darnell Diggs tells a story about how his father was hurt by a cow

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Darnell Diggs talks about the culture of blues music in Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Darnell Diggs describes his experience at Pike County High School

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Darnell Diggs recalls his decision to attend Alabama A&M University

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Darnell Diggs talks about his experience at Alabama A&M University

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Darnell Diggs recalls his initial poor performance in physics during college

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Darnell Diggs talks about the development of his interest in physics

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Darnell Diggs talks about a conversation with the black physicist, Bill Gates

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Darnell Diggs talks about working at NASA Space Camp

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Darnell Diggs continues to talk about space camp and his other jobs during college

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Darnell Diggs talks about his academic and extra-curricular activities during college

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Darnell Diggs talks about his graduate school experience at Alabama A&M

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Darnell Diggs talks about his graduate school mentors and his master's thesis

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Darnell Diggs describes his internship at the University of Wisconsin Madison

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Darnell Diggs describes his Ph.D. research and its applications from Alabama A&M

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Darnell Diggs recalls his difficulties in graduate school

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Darnell Diggs recalls his first job at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Darnell Diggs describes his work with organic materials that have light emitting properties

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Darnell Diggs responds to a question about being publicly recognized

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Darnell Diggs advises budding scientists

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Darnell Diggs discusses his philosophy on science and religion

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Darnell Diggs discusses the underrepresentation of African Americans in physics

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Darnell Diggs describes his continuing education and plans for the future

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Darnell Diggs discusses his legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Darnell Diggs talks about his colleagues, family, and friends

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Darnell Diggs talks about his church life

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Darnell Diggs talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

6$10

DATitle
Darnell Diggs describes his Ph.D. research and its applications from Alabama A&M
Darnell Diggs responds to a question about being publicly recognized
Transcript
Okay, all right, well, tell us about the Ph.D.. Now, you went to the, you received your Ph.D. from the same school--$$I did.$$--Alabama A&M [Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University, Huntsville, Alabama]. Now, how many, is it unusual for, well, I know it is, because there aren't many traditionally black colleges or historically black colleges that have Ph.D. programs in the hard sciences?$$Right, not many. I wanna say, Alabama A&M, I think Howard [University, Washington D.C.] and, Howard, I wanna say Norfolk State[University, Norfolk, Virginia] maybe and Hampton [University, Hampton, Virginia]. I think those four offer a Ph.D. in physics. I don't wanna say TSU, Tennessee State [University, Nashville, Tennessee]. I think they are in engineering, something like that but not in physics.$$Okay, so that is unusual. So, now, what was your Ph.D. dissertation?$$My Ph.D. dissertation was in chemical sensing, chemical and biological sensing which is relevant for the Air Force in terms of being able to sense and detect harmful biological agents.$$Okay, so that is about that, sensing harmful biological agents.$$Yeah, um-hum.$$Okay, now how, what's the application of that, I guess activity?$$Now, like if they feel that the next wave will be perhaps chemical warfare. So if I come into your environment and release something that you can't see or smell or taste, like carbon monoxide which is very deadly and you can't see it and you can't taste it, you can't smell it. So that's why people succumb to it. But there are devices in place that can detect those harmful agents, although the physical senses can't pick it up. And so like even if Iraq, if someone comes and puts some deadly pathogen in your water supply and you don't know it's there, then you'll drink it unknowingly, and could possibly die. But then there are devices you can make to put in the water and say okay, there's something there or improvised explosive devices which is a chemical. You can say, okay, you can scan the area and say, okay, that's TNT or RDX, which say that's a potential harmful device there, so.$$Okay, so what specific substances did you, were you able to detect through your (unclear)--$$We did, to demonstrate the proof of concept, we did, we detect ammonia and we mixed it in different ambient air, like under so many parts per million because of those, it'd be very sensitive to (unclear) the system, the smallest amount in the greatest volume of air.$$$Okay, all right. Now, what's been, I guess--now, you've been, you've received quite a bit of recognition in the past few years. There's been, you received the Black Engineer of the Year Award in 2004 in the category of the most promising scientist in government. You received, you were recognized as one of the top fifty Most Important Blacks in Research Science that same year. In 2005, you received the top Minority in Science Trailblazer Award. You were also one of the five distinguished African American physicists to appear in a National television public service announcement for the World Year of Physicists in 2005 in celebration of Albert Einstein. I mean there's a lot of--you were profiled at the Chicago Museum of Science and Industry too, I think, for black creativity back in 2005. So what, I mean, do you have a response to all this recognition? I mean, you know--$$When people ask me, I give them the real answer. I mean I like it, but when they say how do you, how did it happen? I just, I tell them God. I mean I don't, God and prayer, and being, I guess being in the right place at the right time. I don't know. That Black Engineer of the Year Award was, that's highly competitive, and I won that, being, only being like, being on the job a year and six or eight months. And I was, you know, in the category competing with people who had been on the job for a while. And the guy who was on the committee that they select, he was telling me that because I was a Sunday school teacher, and I was tutoring, and I was active with the youth, cause you're more than just an engineer or a scientists. You have to be communally responsible also. And he was like, a lot of the applications don't, they highlight all of their educational credentials and never show where they give anything back to the community. He was like, that part of me pushed me over the top. So.$$Okay, I think it's a stereotypical image of scientists, you know, rocket scientists or something, you know, lab coat, in a laboratory all day, kind of myopic in their views, you know, and not really participating in the community, you know, just always thinking about calculations and, you know, that--I mean, so you don't fit that stereotype?$$No, because I agree with Carter G. Woodson, if you do that, then you're clearly not educated. I really believe that because again, I said earlier, that education is not merely the impartation of knowledge. Education is also the communication of experience to a race. So I have a responsibility to educate and a responsibility to help somebody else along the way. You can have a degree and miss the education is what I'm saying, so.$$Okay, do you speak to a lot of young people?$$Often, yeah. I do a lot of public speaking in, here in Dayton [Ohio], Alabama. I spoke to a lot of the universities here too, UD [University of Dayton, Dayton, Ohio], Wright State [University, Dayton, Ohio], and on base [Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Dayton, Ohio]. I do like the Black History. I did the MLK [Martin Luther King] ceremony for another agency here on base in January. So I just did like, did U-D's diversity lecture series a couple of weeks ago.$$And you enjoy speaking?$$I love speaking, love public speaking, yes. I love telling people my story, love telling me what they, you know, encourage people that they can do whatever they wanna do and not to live their lives in the words or thoughts of other people and don't see them as, you know, they're just obstacles, you know, that's all. But find a way to overcome it. They can believe what they want. When someone tells you they can't, you can't do something, what they're saying is that they can't, not you. So. You know, (unclear) I believe like that, yeah.