Saturday, October 24, 2015

MIT Physicist - James Edward Young

Dr. James Edward Young is an outstanding scientist and pioneer who became MIT's first tenured African American Physics Professor. He also advised Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson and Dr. Sylvester James Gates (MIT Physics Ph.D. graduates). These two alumni are among MIT's cadre of physicists that received among their numerous national and international honors, prestigious appointments by two United States Presidents.

James E. Young was born in Wheeling, West Virginia on January 18, 1926. He was graduated from Lincoln High School in 1941. In 1942 he entered Howard University (Washington, DC) and was graduated with the B.S. Degree in Physics in 1946. From 1946 to 1949 he was employed as an Instructor in Physics at Hampton Institute, Hampton, VA. During this time he took, in absentia, the M.S. Degree in Physics at Howard University. In 1949 he joined the staff of the Acoustics Laboratory at MIT as Research Assistant in Physics. In 1951 he received the M.S. Degree, without specification, from MIT. He is a member of Sigma Pi Sigma, Beta Kappa Chi and Sigma Xi.

James Edward Young received his Ph.D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1953.  The dissertation's title is "Propagation of Sound In Attenuating Ducts Containing Absorptive Strips".  Acknowledgements cited in his original thesis submission on May 18, 1953 is as follows:

He was married to E. Elaine Hunter in 1948 and they have one child, James E. Young III

Excerpt of biographical note taken from his successful physics dissertation defense in 1953:
Propagation of Sound in Attenuating Ducts Containing Absorptive Strips.  Dr. Young's archived thesis is courtesy of DSpace@MIT - a service of MIT Libraries.  All items in DSpace@MIT are protected by original copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.


  1. Amazing,interesting. I'm Hampton Institute Grad. So very proud of James and his accomplishments. Unknown to me until this morning.

  2. I know of Dr. Young's work from a foundational publication in the field of relativistic many-body scattering/reaction theory with co-authors, Aaron and Amado published in 1968. It's a highly cited contribution (nearly 200) that is very well written and sets up and solve the field theoretic dynamical equations for pion-nucleon scattering incorporating two- and three-body unitarity. It is truly a tour de force in the field.