Go Further: Guiding Discovery of Passions
Entering the academic ecosystem can be especially daunting for students with underrepresented identities. These students can face a different set of obstacles when making decisions on higher education and careers. Dr. Jim Gates faced this reality on his path to becoming a physicist. Looking back on his journey, Professor Gates understands that he couldn’t pursue his dreams without support.
Theoretical physicist Dr. Jim Gates was often the only African-American in the physics departments in which he worked and learned. In this episode, he tells his story of discovering his passion in physics and how effective mentors throughout his life supported him through what could’ve been insurmountable obstacles. Professor Gates also shares how important it is to actively seek mentors, the impact of culturally responsive mentoring, and what mentoring skills he uses most today.
Professor Gates is known for his groundbreaking work on supersymmetry, supergravity, and superstring theory. In 1977, he received his Ph.D from Massachusetts Institute of Technology as the only African American in his cohort, where he gave the first doctoral thesis to explore supersymmetry. In 2013, Dr. Gates was elected into the National Academy of Sciences and was awarded the National Medal of Science by President Barack Obama.
To learn more about the Science of Effective Mentorship in STEMM report, and for a guide to implementing best practices at your institution, visit NAS.edu/mentoring.
Brought to you by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.