Sylvester James Gates

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Sylvester James Gates
JimGates NatureofExistence.jpg
Born (1950-12-15) December 15, 1950 (age 64)
Tampa, Florida[1]
Nationality United States
Fields Physics
Institutions University of Maryland, College Park
Alma mater Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Known for Supersymmetry
String Theory
Supersymmetry nonrenormalization theorems
Superconformal algebra
Adinkra symbols
Bihermitian manifolds
Notable awards Klopsteg Memorial Award (2003)
National Medal of Science (2013)

Sylvester James Gates, Jr. (born December 15, 1950), known as S. James Gates, Jr, or Jim Gates, is an American theoretical physicist, known for work on supersymmetry, supergravity, and superstring theory. He is currently a Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, College Park, a University of Maryland Regents Professor and serves on President Barack Obama's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.[2]


Gates received SB (1973) and PhD (1977) degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His doctoral thesis was the first at MIT on supersymmetry. With M. T. Grisaru, M. Rocek and W. Siegel, Gates coauthored Superspace, or One thousand and one lessons in supersymmetry (1984), the first comprehensive book on supersymmetry.[3]

Gates was nominated by the Department of Energy as one of the USA Science and Engineering Festival's "Nifty Fifty" Speakers to present his work and career to middle and high school students in October 2010.[4] He is on the board of trustees of Society for Science & the Public.

Gates was a Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Scholar at MIT (2010-11) and was a Residential Scholar at MIT's Simmons Hall. He is pursuing ongoing research into string theory, supersymmetry, and supergravity at the MIT Center for Theoretical Physics. His research focuses on Adinkra symbols as representations of supersymmetric algebras.

On February 1, 2013, Gates was a recipient of the National Medal of Science.[5]

Media appearances[edit]

Gates has been featured extensively on NOVA PBS programs on physics, notably "The Elegant Universe" (2003). He completed a DVD series titled Superstring Theory: The DNA of Reality (2006) for The Teaching Company consisting of 24 half-hour lectures to make the complexities of unification theory comprehensible to laypeople.[6] During the 2008 World Science Festival, Gates narrated [7] a ballet "The Elegant Universe", where he gave a public presentation of the artistic forms[8] connected to his scientific research. Gates also appeared in the BBC Horizon documentary The Hunt for Higgs in 2012. Gates recently appeared in another NOVA documentary "Big Bang Machine" in 2015.


  • L'arte della fisica - Stringhe, superstringhe, teoria unificata dei campi, 2006, Di Renzo Editore, ISBN 88-8323-155-4.