Physicist Warren E. Henry, whose nearly seven decades of work in
the fields of magnetism and superconductivity have earned him praise as one of
the most eminent African-American scientists in this nation's history, will be
honored with an all-day symposium at Ernest Orlando Lawrence Berkeley National
On Friday, September 19, dozens of his former students, colleagues and
professional admirers will descend on Berkeley Lab, which is sponsoring the
tribute, and Henry himself -- now 88 years old -- will hear testimonials to his
productive life and career. The proceedings will be assembled and published.
The symposium, entitled "The Importance of Magnetism in Physics and Material
Science," is open to the public at no charge on a space-available basis. All
lectures will be presented at Berkeley Lab's Building 66 Auditorium, beginning
at 9 a.m.
The tribute idea was an outgrowth of this year's National Society of Black
Physicists conference, held in Berkeley last March, according to Hattie
Carwell, Operations Head at the Department of Energy's Berkeley Site Office. A
health physicist, Carwell said she was concerned that Henry's achievements were
not generally appreciated within the scientific community, "and it seemed a
shame people wouldn't be aware of his prominence and eminence."
Hence the day-long honor for a scientist, educator and inventor who grew up in
Alabama as a colleague of George Washington Carver and whose science career
took him through top-secret radar research during World War II at
the MIT Radiation Laboratory (1943-46) and guidance systems
design for missile detection in submarines at Lockheed (1960-69) . During this
period he also worked at UC Berkeley as a guest investigator at the Giauque Lab
under the auspices of Glenn Seaborg. Within his broad and diverse portfolio was
a period teaching special physics courses to young officers of the Army Air
Corps who became famous as the Tuskegee Airmen of World War II.
A professor emeritus at Howard University, Henry spent significant periods of
his career at the University of Chicago, and on the faculty at
Morehouse College, Spelman College, Tuskegee Institute and Howard
University. He retired in 1977, but Henry continues involvement with a program
called Minorities Access to Research Careers (MARC), which encourages third and
fourth-year college students to be members of scientific teams.
Henry has been a scholar, researcher and author of considerable note ("Ebony"
Magazine wrote in the 1950s that "his research and knowledge of materials at
extremely low temperatures is probably unsurpassed in the U.S."). His graph on
paramagnetism ("Halliday and Resnick Electricity and Magnetism")
has been a physics textbook standard in this country for years. He has written
or contributed to hundreds of scientific articles and co-authored the 1934
book, "Procedures in Elementary Qualitative Chemical Analysis."
He earned his bachelor's degree from Tuskegee Institute in 1931, his master's
from Atlanta University in 1937, and his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago
It is rare that a scientist receives the adulation of his peers through
testimonials at a symposium, and Berkeley's celebration will be Henry's second
-- in 1988, he was feted with "Magnetic Phenomena: the Warren E. Henry
Symposium on Magnetism, in Commemoration of His 80th Birthday and His Work in
Magnetism" in Washington, D.C.
Berkeley Lab Nobel Laureate Glenn T. Seaborg will be among those making
remarks at the 1997 symposium, following welcomes from Laboratory Deputy
Director Pier Oddone and Department of Energy Oakland Operations Office
Director James Turner.
Speakers will include Physics Professors James Gates of the University of
Maryland, Vladimir Kresin of Berkeley Lab and Arthur Thorpe of Howard
University, who will address the various disciplines that Henry influenced in
his career. Former Henry students Matthew Ware of Grambling State University
and Eleanor Franklin of Howard University will reflect on his teaching
experiences. Former colleagues George Ferguson of the Naval Weapons Laboratory
and Emory Curtis of Lockheed will address Henry's technical contributions.
William Holton, Historian for the national organization for the Tuskegee
Airmen, Inc., will discuss Henry's experience with that group.
An afternoon panel featuring Ferguson, Franklin, Curtis, Thorpe, Holton, UC
Berkeley professor emeritus Harry Morrison and Zolili Ndlela, an ex-Henry
student and now faculty member at Sacramento State University, will provide
additional perspectives on Henry's career. Later, a dinner featuring an
address by Ronald Mickens, a mathematical physicist from Clark Atlanta
University and Historian for the National Society of Black Physicists, will
conclude the program at the Faculty Club at UC Berkeley.