Renowned Brown University physicist S. James Gates Jr. has been elected to lead the premier physics society in the U.S.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Brown University physics professor S. James Gates Jr. has been elected to the presidential line of the American Physical Society, a nonprofit that represents more than 55,000 physicists in higher education, national laboratories and industry in the U.S. and across the world.

Gates will serve as the society’s vice president in 2019, president-elect in 2020 and president in 2021. The APS president leads the society’s board of directors, which has the ultimate responsibility for the actions of the society. The society’s mission is to advance and diffuse the knowledge of physics through its research journals, scientific meetings, and education, outreach, advocacy and international activities.

Gates says he’s honored to have been elected by his fellow physicists and that he sees this as a critical time to be taking on this new role.

“Now is a time when all good citizens need to come to the aid of our nation’s future,” he said. “This can be done best, in my opinion, by providing service to the mission of rededicating efforts to the bridging of chasms that have appeared in our nation. Some of these exist between portions of the public and the science community, and we must not let these deleterious processes go unchallenged.”

Gates joined the Brown faculty as the Ford Foundation Professor of Physics in May 2017, after 33 years on the faculty at the University of Maryland. He is known for pioneering work in theoretical physics, including the areas of supersymmetry and supergravity. Gates has earned numerous awards during his academic career including the National Medal of Science, the highest honor bestowed upon American scientists and engineers by the U.S. president. He’s a member of the National Academy of Sciences, serves on the board of trustees of Society for Science and the Public and was a member of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology under Barack Obama.

In May 2017, Gates joined the faculty at Brown, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate classes as well as pursuing research in theoretical physics. Credit: Nick Dentamaro

Gates is also a highly visible communicator of science, having appeared as an expert on numerous television news broadcasts and as a regular contributor to the PBS science series, “NOVA.” Gates says he sees science communication as a critical role for physicists and the APS.

“A vital component of this must be our continuous improvement as effective communicators in realms from thought-leaders, policymakers to the public,” Gates said in his candidacy statement for the APS presidency. “As an organization that draws greater than 50,000 members from the realms of academia, national laboratories, and corporate domains, the society must be the voice for these and the discipline. It needs to afford its membership opportunities to successfully engage this challenge. I hope to bring to bear my experiences to project this voice and represent our community.”

Gates is slated to assume the post of vice president on Jan. 1, 2019.