Dr. Warren Henry, has taught at Howard, Tuskegee, Morehouse, Spelman and
the University of Chicago. He is the author of over 100 scientific publications, and has
been associated with over 17 Nobel Laureates. At age 89(soon to be age 90), and after
seven decades of research and teaching, he continues to give back to the field of
Still going strong at age 89, Dr. Warren Henry is world renowned for his achievements
in magnetism, superconductivity and low temperature physics. Dr. Henry's work in these
areas is superb according to Nobel laureate Dr. Glenn Seaborg who has known him for 40
years. "Easily, Henry is one of the most eminent African American scientists in this
nation's history. Few can boast of working with or being associated with seventeen Nobel
prize winners as Dr. Henry has. Not only does his research earn him praise, but his
dedication as an educator and supporter of three generations of students is recognized by
his peers and former students. His career oscillated between research in government,
industry and teaching at historically Black Colleges and Universities."
His best known research was conducted at the Naval Research Laboratory during the early
1950's. His research data on magnetic susceptibility and paramagnetism, experimentally
demonstrated precise proof of the Brillouin Equation and Pierre Curie Law which described
the existence of magnetic susceptibility of certain classes of materials. His data is
still found in the sections on electricity and magnetism in modern physics textbooks.
Among Dr. Henry's many inventions are: a metal dewar used to maintain samples at
temperatures lower than 273 degrees F and the magnetic moment lift, which is used to move
the sample in and out of the magnetic field in a stable environment.
Dr. Henry's graduate research was used to enhance radar signals while he worked at
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Radiation Laboratory during World War II. This
device, called a video amplifier, clarified and strengthened radar signals on the radar
screen. Radar detection of enemy aircraft was a key technology used to help win World War
Dr. Henry's drive and determination were developed during his childhood. Both of his
parents were graduates of Tuskegee University and were taught by Dr. George Washington
Carver. His mother was a school teacher, and his father became one of Dr. Carver's farming
agents. When Dr. Henry was a young boy, Dr. Carver visited the family farm regularly,
where during walks in the woods, Dr. Carver would share his knowledge of plants with the
youngster. Dr. Henry's interest in chemistry first developed while he was in high school
when his mother, realizing that he had not included science in his course studies, gave
him a chemistry book to read. He found the book fascinating.
After high school, Dr. Henry attended Tuskegee where he majored in math, English and
French and minored in chemistry, physics and German. Although Dr. Carver was retired by
then, he was still on campus doing research and conducting a bible study class, which Dr.
Henry also attended.
Prior to receiving his Masters Degree in Organic Chemistry at Atlanta University in
1937, Henry held a series of teaching positions. He taught high school, became a high
school principal, and later taught physics at Spelman and Morehouse Colleges.
It was his Atlanta University chemistry professor, Dr. Huggins, who inspired him to
pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry. In 1941, he obtained his doctorate from the University
The period from 1938-41, during which Dr. Henry attended the University of Chicago, was
exciting and stimulating. At the University, he was exposed to the latest thoughts of the
originators of modern physics theories. It was for Dr. Henry, the beginning of a long
association with scientists who either had already won Nobel prizes in chemistry and
physics, or were destined to do so.
Arthur Compton taught him quantum mechanics, Wolfgang Pauli taught nuclear forces,
Robert Millikan taught molecular spectra. He played tennis with Dr. Enrico Fermi who won
the Nobel prize for achieving the first sustained chain reaction in a nuclear reactor.
Over his career, he has been associated with more than17 Nobel prize winners.
After receiving his doctorate, Henry returned to Alabama just in time to teach physics
to the famous Tuskegee Airmen, the first Black WWII pilots. Henry ensured that these men
thoroughly understood the physics of flight and were prepared to perform well,
particularly since the nation doubted the scientific ability of African Americans, and
many hoped that the experiment to include African Americans as fighter pilots would fail.
In the 1960's while at Lockheed Space and Missile Co., he developed guidance systems
for the detection of submarines and helped to design the hover craft that was specially
developed for use in night fighting during the Vietnam War.
For the past three decades, he has turned his focus to education and students. He has
worked to build the physics resources at Howard University and to pass on his secrets for
good research and success to students in the Minority Access to Research (MARC) Program,
which encourages third and fourth-year college students to become members of scientific
He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Association for the
Advancement of Science. He is also the recipient of awards such as: The Tuskegee Alumni
Award, Carver Award, Outstanding Educator in America, Lifetime Achievement Award in the
Community from the National Science Foundation and the 1997 Technical Achiever of the Year
Award from the National Technical Association. In March, 1997 he received the 1st
Annual Golden Torch Award for Lifetime Achievement in Engineering, which was sponsored by
the National Society of Black Engineers. He has also been nominated for the National
Medal of Science , the highest US science honor given by the nation's President.
Having had a career that spanned three generations, Dr. Warren Henry continues to give
back to the field of engineering. There are a very few who could ever dream of surpassing
the impact that his work has had on modern science. The nomination was submitted by
Dr. Glenn Seaborg, and supported by Dr. Robert Schrieffer both Nobel Laureates and other