February 3, 2020
The National Society of Black Physicists honors Dr. Carl A. Rouse. Dr. Rouse became the first African American to successfully enter into a career as a professional astrophysics researcher. He left behind a tremendous academic legacy as well as a financial legacy to ensure continued growth of underrepresented groups in astrophysics research.
Raised in Ohio, a young Rouse developed a love for science. In 1944 while serving in the Army Specialized Training Reserve (ASTR) he was sent to New York University to complete the ASTR Civil Engineering Course. After being discharged from the Army, he attended Case Institute of Technology where he studied physics and math. After receiving his BS, he was awarded an Institute Fellowship to study at California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Rouse then went on to earn his doctorate degree in physics in 1956 from Caltech, becoming the fifth African American to earn a doctorate degree in physics from any American university and the first to earn one from Caltech.
After earning his doctorate, Dr. Carl Albert Rouse became the first African American to successfully enter into a career as a professional astrophysics researcher. Dr. Rouse's thesis research was in the field of particle physics. After graduate school, he took a position as a scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where he studied screened Coulomb interactions utilizing quantum mechanics theory. There he developed mathematical equations for describing changes to solid matter when it comes into contact with high temperatures and radiation. In 1967, he edited a four volume series entitled, Progress in High Temperature Physics and Chemistry. Perhaps his most notable achievement was his development of a mathematical model of the interior sun. While working on equations of state he discovered problems with the standard model of the sun. With this discovery, he set out to develop a mathematical (high-z) model of the sun whose predictive value could be measured through observations of solar radiation. Rouse then devised a new method to measure the presence of helium in the sun's atmosphere and he posed his own theories on the matter. Through his efforts, many astrophysicists abandoned the standard model of the sun in favor of his model.
Legacy - The Dr. Carl Rouse Fellowship
Following the passing of Dr. Rouse in 2014, the National Society of Black Physicists and the California Institute of Technology, along with the Rouse family established the Dr. Carl Rouse Fellowship in honor of the late Dr. Carl Albert Rouse for research with LIGO Laboratory and for undergraduate students who have demonstrated both a commitment to pursuing science as an academic major and a strong interest in astrophysics. The Rouse Memorial Fellowship is awarded annually to provide summer research support for an undergraduate student, preferably an underrepresented minority, participating in the LIGO SURF program. Fellows are supported through the National Society of Black Physicists and the generous contributions of the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).