Remebering Warren Elliot Henry - Pioneer African-American Superconductivity Physicist

Born on February 18, 1909 in rural Evergreen, Alabama, Warren Elliot Henry was an African American physicist and educator who spent almost seven decades working in the fields of magnetism and superconductivity. Henry earned his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from the Tuskegee Institute in 1931, his master’s in organic chemistry from Atlanta University in 1937, and his doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of Chicago in 1941. During World War II, he returned to teach at Tuskegee, where his students included the black military pilots who would become famous as the Tuskegee Airmen. In 1943 he was recruited to work at MIT’s Radiation Laboratory to develop video amplifiers for radar. After the war, Henry continued to work in both academia and industry. He served on the faculties of several schools, including Morehouse College, Spelman College, and Howard University, from which he retired as professor emeritus in 1977. From 1948 to 1960, Henry worked at the Naval Research Laboratory studying cryomagnetism, and from 1960 to 1969, he took a position as senior staff engineer at Lockheed Missiles and Space Co investigating submarine detection systems. Henry was a fellow of the American Physical Society, for which he served as chair of the committee on minorities in physics. He was also one of the early leaders in the National Society of Black Physicists. Even after he formally retired, Henry continued to travel, give presentations, and encourage new generations of minority students to pursue scientific careers. Henry died at age 92 in 2001. (Photo credit: AIP Emilio Segrè Visual Archives, Henry Collection).

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Rabia S. Sa'id, PhD
  • Associate Professor of Physics
    Bayero University, Kano, Nigeria
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  • Ford Foundation International Fellow (2002)
  • Fellow of the African Scientific Institute (2013)
  • OWSD/ Elsevier Foundation Award in Physics (2015)


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