Sylvester James “Jim” Gates, Jr., (born December 15, 1950) is an American theoretical physicist. He received two B.S. degrees and a Ph.D. degree from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the latter in 1977. His doctoral thesis was the first one at MIT to deal with supersymmetry. Gates is currently a University System Regents Professor, the John S. Toll Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Director of the String and Particle Theory Center, Affiliate Professor of Mathematics, and serves on the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, National Commission on Forensic Science, and on the Maryland State Board of Education. He is known for his work on supersymmetry, supergravity, and superstring theory. In 1984, working with M.T. Grisaru, M. Rocek, W. Siegel, Gates co-authored Superspace, the first comprehensive book on the topic of supersymmetry.
In 2006, he completed a DVD series titled Superstring Theory: The DNA of Reality for The Teaching Company composed of 24 half-hour lectures to make the complexities of unification theory comprehensible to non-physicists. In 2012, he was named a University System of Maryland Regents Professor, only the sixth person so recognized in the system’s history. He is a past president of the National Society of Black Physicists, and is a NSBP Fellow, as well as a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the Institute of Physics in the U.K. He also is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. In 2013, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences, becoming the first African-American physicist so recognized in its 150-year history. On November 16, 2013, Prof. Gates was awarded the Mendel Medal by Villanova University “in recognition of his influential work in supersymmetry, supergravity and string theory, as well as his advocacy for science and science education in the United States and abroad.” President Obama awarded Prof. Gates the National Medal of Science, the highest award given to scientists in the U.S., at a White House ceremony in 2013. During 2014, he was named the Harvard Foundation’s ‘‘Scientist of the Year.’’
In 2015, he became a member of the Board of Directors of the Achieve, Inc and the Board of Councillors for the Boy Scout of America’s STEM National Council. He continues to broadly engage video documentaries with appearance or cameos in six of these in 2015:
(1.) “The Big Bang Machine”
(2.) “The Great Math Mystery”
(3.) “The Mystery of Matter”
(4.) “Inside Einstein’s Mind.”
(6.) “Secrets of Einsteins Brain”
He currently continues his research in supersymmetry in systems of particles, fields, and strings.