13-Jul-07 4:00 PM  CST



(NSBP PRESS RELEASE) (ATLANTA) – (APRIL 6, 2007) Dr.Byron K. Freelon, a research scientist at the University of California-Berkeley, has won the first Morehouse Physics Prize. 

The National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP) established the Morehouse Physics Prize through a financial gift by Dr. and Mrs. Walter Massey. The Massey’s gift also enabled NSBP to establish the Elmer S.Imes Physics Scholarship. 

The Morehouse Physics Prize recognizes HBCU graduates who have shown considerable promise as physics researchers and teachers. Eligibility for this prize extends to anyone with an earned degree from an HBCU, an earned doctorate in physics, and who shows tremendous promise as a physics researcher. The prize includes a cash award and a travel grant to give a colloquium at Morehouse College.

These awards advance three of NSBP’s most important concepts - first,providing scholarship assistance to students who are majoring in physics, second, promoting the idea of capacity building at HBCUs,and third, recognizing the contribution of HBCUs to the vitality of the African American presence in physics and to physics scholarship in general”, states Dr. Keith Jackson, the most recent past-president of NSBP and a 1976 graduate of Morehouse College.

Dr. Freelon attended Prairie View A&M University and received a Ph.D.in physics from the University of Minnesota in 2001.  After graduate school, he worked as a post-doctoral research associate with Dr. Zahid Hussain at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.  There he developed a beamline-based molecular beam epitaxy system at the Advanced Light Source (ALS).  He is presently a research scientist inthe group of UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau.  Freelon is interested in various synchrotron techniques to study high-temperature superconductors and soft-matter systems.  In addition to synchrotron techniques he is working on inelastic neutron scattering with Professor Birgeneau.  Dr. Freelon is also leading an international collaboration to develop a pulsed-laser deposition facility at the Advanced Light Source synchrotron.

The National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP) was officially founded in1977.  With nearly 600 student and professional members, NSBP is the largest and most recognizable organization devoted to the African American physics community.  NSBP’s mission is to promote the professional well-being of African American physicists, to develop and support efforts to increase opportunities for African Americans in physics and to increase their numbers and visibility of their scientific work, to develop activities and programs that highlight and enhance the benefits of the scientific contributions that African American physicists provide for the international community, and to raise the general knowledge and appreciation of physics in the African American community. 

Ranked twice as the number one college in the nation for educating African American students by Black Enterprise magazine, Morehouse College is the nation’s largest, private liberal arts college for African-American men. Founded in 1867, the College enrolls approximately 3,000 students and confers bachelor’s degrees on more black men than any other institution in the world. Morehouse offers a number of programs and activities to enhance its challenging liberal arts curriculum through the Leadership Center at Morehouse College, Morehouse Research Institute, and Andrew Young Center for International Affairs. Morehouse is one of only two Historically Black Colleges or Universities to produce two Rhodes Scholars.

Besides Drs. Jackson and Massey, other notable physicists who are Morehouse graduates include Dr. John H. Hopps, Jr., recently deceased, but formerly the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering, Dr. Charles Brown, a retired Distinguished Science Fellow at Lucent-Bell Labs, and currently Chair of the physics department at Morehouse College and Director of International Affairs of NSBP, Dr. Roderic Pettigrew, Director of the National Institute of Bioimaging and Bioengineering, Dr. Mack Roach, Chairman and Professor of Radiation Oncology at University of California at San Francisco, Drs. Lonzy Lewis and Michael Williams, both are physics professors at Clark Atlanta University, and Dr. Damon Phillips, Professor of Organizations and Strategy at the University of Chicago.

Dr.Walter E. Massey was appointed as the ninth president of Morehouse College in 1995.  He is a class of 1958 graduate of Morehouse, and later earned his Ph.D. in physics at Washington University in St.Louis.  A noted physicist, he has been on the faculty at Brown University and University of Illinois, vice president for research at University of Chicago, Director of the Argonne National Laboratory,senior vice president and provost of the University of California System, and former director of the National Science Foundation.  He was elected president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and vice president of the American Physical Society. Walter and Shirley Massey are the parents of two sons.

Ranked No. 27 on Black Enterprise magazine’s list of “Top 50Colleges and Universities for African-Americans”, Prairie View A&M University was founded in 1876 and is the second-oldest public institution of higher education in Texas.  With an established reputation for producing engineers, nurses and educators, PVAMU offers baccalaureate degrees in 50 academic majors, 37 master’s degrees and four doctoral degree programs through nine colleges and schools.  A member of the Texas A&M University System, the university is dedicated to fulfilling its land-grant mission of achieving excellence in teaching, research and service. During the university’s 130-year history, nearly 48,000 academic degrees have been awarded.


For additional information on this release, please contact:
Keith Jackson
(703) 536-4207
Source: National Society of Black Physicists Website:
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