Election to the academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be accorded a U.S. scientist or engineer. It is the latest honor in an extraordinary year for Gates. In January, he was named a University System of Maryland Regents Professor, and in February President Obama awarded him the National Medal of Science in a White House ceremony.
That award cited Dr. Gates’ “contributions to the mathematics of supersymmetry in particle, field, and string theories and extraordinary efforts to engage the public on the beauty and wonder of fundamental physics.”
Gates’ induction will bring to 22 the number of past and present University of Maryland, College Park faculty elected to the NAS. A total of 50 past and present faculty are members of the National Academies, which is comprised of the NAS, the National Academy of Engineering and the Institute of Medicine.
Gates is known for his work in supersymmetry and supergravity, areas closely related to superstring theory, which seeks to describe the fundamental matter of the universe and is sometimes referred to as a “theory of everything.” He is the John S.Toll Professor of Physics and director of the Center for String and Particle Theory. He has been featured frequently on the PBS television program NOVA as an expert on physics, and has completed a DVD of 24 half-hour lectures that make the complexities of theoretical physics understandable to laypeople.
“Jim Gates’ contributions to theoretical physics are shaping the way a generation of scientists think about and study the nature of the universe,” said Jayanth Banavar, dean of the university’s College of Computer, Mathematical and Natural Sciences. “This latest honor, and the many others he has received this year and throughout his career, recognize the ground-breaking quality of his work. We congratulate him and we are extraordinarily proud of him.”