Homer Neal

by / Saturday, 18 February 2017 / Published in BHM 2017

February 18, 2017

The National Society of Black Physicists honors Dr. Homer Neal.


Dr. Homer NealDr. Homer Alfred Neal was born on June 13, 1942, in Franklin, Kentucky.  He is an African American particle physicist.

As a youngster, Neal was intrigued with the excitement and liberation associated with the hobby of amateur radio.  He contributes this early experience as the key to his lifelong interest in science.  After he graduated high school, he enrolled at Indiana University.  He received his B.S. in physics with honors in 1961.  He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1966.  Eventually, Dr. Neal began a career in higher education as a professor in physics at Indiana University in 1967. In 1976 to 1981, he served as the Dean for Research and Graduate Development at Indiana University.  From 1981 to 1986 he served as the Provost at the State University of New York at Stony Brook.  In 1987, he returned to his alma mater University of Michigan to become chairman of the Department of Physics.  In the early 90s, Dr. Neal began participating in the DZERO collaboration that announced the discovery of the top quark in 1995.  In the early phases of this experiment, the Michigan group was responsible for designing, implementing, and analyzing data from the Intercryostat Detector.

Currently, Dr. Neal is the Samuel A. Goudsmit Professor of Physics, Interim President Emeritus, and Vice President Emeritus for Research at the University of Michigan.  From 2000-2015 he was Director of the U-M ATLAS Project.  While serving as the director, he hired most the research group, including Jianming Qian, who chaired a subcommittee that led to the discovery of the Higgs Boson.  His current research is centered around an ongoing study of spin effects in high energy collisions at the Large Hadron Collider.  Recent documents claim success in explaining the exceptionally large polarization and spin correlation effects observed in high energy p-p elastic scattering, which is based on a quark- quark scattering model developed by Neal and Holger Nielsen at the Niels Bohr Institute.  His research group is now at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics, in experimental high energy physics, as a part of the ATLAS Experiment.

Outside of research and academia, Dr. Homer Neal is served as a board member of the Ford Motor Company from 1997 to 2014.  He is also a Director of the Lounsbery Foundation and a current member of the Council for the Smithsonian Museum of African American History on the Mall.  He has served as a member of the National Research Council Board on Physics and Astronomy.  From 1980 to 1986, he served as a member of the National Science Board of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and as the Chairman of the Physics Advisory Committee of NSF.  In 2008, Neal co-authored the book, Beyond Sputnik: U.S. Science Policy in the 21st Century, a popular textbook and website on science policy.  He has served as a member of the American Physical Society’s (APS) Panel on Public Affairs and as the APS President in 2016.

Among the numerous awards and accolades received by Dr. Homer Neal, he is a recipient of the American Physical Society’s Edward Bouchet Award.  He is also a recipient of a Sloan Foundation Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship, the Stony Brook Medal, and the Indiana University Distinguished Alumni Service Award. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, the AAAS, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  He also holds Honorary Doctorates from Indiana University, Notre Dame University and Michigan State University.

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