Black Faculty Are Scarce in Top Physics Departments

In recent weeks JBHE has reported research conducted by Donna Nelson, an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Oklahoma, on black faculty in a wide range of scientific disciplines. This week we turn to physics.

Professor Nelson’s data finds a total of 22 black faculty at the 100 physics departments with the most research in the field. All told there are 3,335 physics faculty at these institutions. Therefore, blacks make up 0.7 percent of the total physics faculty at the 100 universities with the largest research budgets in the field.

Twelve of the 22 black physicists hold the rank of full professor. Two are at Florida State University. Other universities where blacks hold the rank of full professor of physics are the University of Maryland, the University of Illinois, the University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania, Duke University, and Yale University. Full professors of physics are also found at the University of Iowa, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Fisk University, and the University of Connecticut.

Of the 22 physics department faculty at these 100 top research universities who are African American, only two are women. There are black women serving as assistant professors of physics at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Illinois.