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Dr. Larry Gladney

February 3, 2012


Dr. Larry Donnie Gladney was born on August 9th, 1957 in Cleveland, Mississippi. At the age of 2 months, he moved to East St. Louis, Illinois, where he was raised by a single parent, his mother Annie Lee Gladney. His fascination with reading led him to excel academically even from an early age. It was in a library at age 13 where he read about what a physicist did and decided to pursue physics as his career. He attended Alta Sita Elementary School, Clarke Junior High School and East St. Louis High School, where he was one of 30 students in his graduating class of 695 who were expected to attend college. He then attended Northwestern University, where he earned his B.A.  in Physics in 1979. He went on to earn a M.S. and Ph.D. in Physics from Stanford University in 1985.

From 1985 to 1988, he worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, where he went on to gain successive assistant and associate professorships before earning the title of Professor in 2005. In 2009, he was appointed as the Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Pennsylvania, a position he will hold until 2014. Dr. Gladney has received many awards and honors including: the National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator fellowship (‘89-‘94), Lilly Teaching Fellowship (‘90), Edward  A. Bouchet Award from the American Physical Society (‘97), Martin Luther King Jr. Lecturer Award from Wayne State University (‘97) and the Edmund J. and Louise W. Khan Chair for Faculty Excellence (‘04).

Dr. Gladney has a great commitment to mentorship, particularly encouraging the participation of minorities within the sciences. In a 2006 interview with The HistoryMakers TM, an organization which conducts interviews with notable African-Americans, Dr. Gladney was asked how he would like to be remembered. His response:

“You know I’m not sure that I’d like to be remembered.  I’d like the things that I’ve done to not be unusual, to not be things where people have to say make a note of that… So I would like to be remembered as not being unusual, not being so out there, not being you know one of just a dozen or so who are actively working in this narrow field of particle physics… If I never did anything with my scientific career but be an astrophysicist, that states volumes about what’s possible for Black people.  To not have that be a statement that needs to be made anymore, I think would be terrific.

Isola Brown, SAS’ 12

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