February 13, 2017
The National Society of Black Physicists honors Dr. Anthony Johnson.
Dr. Anthony M. Johnson was born on May 23, 1954, in Brooklyn, New York. He is an African American experimental physicist and a professor in physics, computer science, and electrical engineering. As a youth, Johnson became intrigued with science after receiving a small chemistry set for Christmas from his parents. After nearly blowing up his family’s home from making gunpowder, he decided to focus on science. In high school, his physics teacher encouraged him to focus on science. Motivated by his physics teacher, after he graduated high school, he enrolled in his teacher’s alma mater, Polytechnic Institute of New York. After receiving his B.S. in physics in 1975, he enrolled into the Ph.D. program at the Graduate Center at the City College of the City University of New York (CCNY). His Ph.D. thesis research was conducted at AT&T Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, New Jersey. He completed his degree in 1981. After earning his Ph.D., from 1981 to 1988, Dr. Johnson became a Member of Technical Staff in Quantum Physics and Electronics department at Bell Laboratories. In 1988, he was promoted to Distinguished Member of Technical Staff in Photonics Circuits Research department. He held this position until 1995 before moving on to eventually become Chairperson and Distinguished Professor of Physics for 8 years at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). Then in 2003, he joined the Department of Physics at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). Among his many great accolades and achievements, Dr. Johnson has authored 100 refereed publications and four U.S. patents. In 2002, he served as president of the Optical Society (formerly the Optical Society of America) and to date, he has the distinction of being the first and only African American president to serve. He has been the recipient of several awards, including the AT&T Bell Labs Distinguished Technical Staff Award, the Black Engineer of the Year Special Recognition Award, Science Spectrum Magazine’s Trailblazer Top Minority in Science Award, and the APS’s Edward A. Bouchet Award. Today, Dr. Anthony M. Johnson is a Professor of Physics, and a Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at the UMBC. He is the Director of the Center for Advanced Studies in Photonic Research (CASPR) on the campus of UMBC. In addition, he also serves at the Deputy Director and Material Research Thrust Leader for the National Science Foundation (NSF) Engineering Research Center for Mid-Infrared Technologies for Health and the Environment (MIRTHE), which is headquartered out of Princeton University. He currently resides in New Jersey with his wife Adrienne and they have three adult children.