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Obituary of Julius Taylor (1914-2011)

20 March 2012

In Memoriam Julius Henry Taylor 1914 - 2011

Dr. Julius Henry Taylor died Aug. 27, 2011 at the age of 97. He was born on February 15, 1914 in Cape May, New Jersey. Arriving at College with only $50 in savings, he paid his college fees by working odd jobs and playing the trumpet at night. In 1938 he earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Lincoln University in Pennsylvania. He went on to receive his M. S. and Ph.D. degrees in solid state physics from the University of Pennsylvania. He was one of the first African-Americans in the nation to receive a Ph.D. in physics.

In 1945, he became chairman of the Department of Physics at West Virginia State College. Four years later, he joined the faculty at Morgan State College, now Morgan State University at the insistence of then-president Dr. Martin David Jenkins who wanted to start a physics department at Morgan.

Dr. Taylor began building the physics department and became its first chairperson in 1954 after earning tenure as a professor. Known as “Doc Taylor” or “Prof Taylor” he was known for his engaging smile, quick wit and helping hand. During his years at Morgan, Taylor mentored several students who went on to earn their Ph.D.’s. The first graduating physics class consisted of three students and all went on to receive their Doctorates in physics, an accomplishment that Dr. Taylor was extremely proud of.

In 1955, he served as an editor for “The Negro in Science”, a book addressing prominent African-American scientists and their research. During his time at Morgan he had grants or contracts with the U.S. Navy, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and the National Science Foundation. Throughout his professional career, he presented papers at professional meetings and published widely in journals including Physics Today, The Journal of Physics, and at the American Physical Society. He contributed more than 20 articles to an edition of the Grolier International Encyclopedia.

Dr. Taylor was the recipient of two Honorary Doctorate degrees in Science from Grambling State University and Lincoln University. In 1963, he was named Alumnus of the Year by Lincoln University. In 1976, he received a Distinguished Service Citation from the American Association of Physics Teachers. He has been a member and president of the executive committee of the Chesapeake Section of the American Association of Physics Teachers as well as a section representative. He lectured at American University before his retirement in 1987 from Morgan.

Upon his retirement he became professor emeritus at Morgan and continued teaching part-time until 1999. He also continued to mentor students in junior and high schools in the Baltimore Public School System. Dr. Taylor received the Technical Achiever Award posthumously from the National Technical Association at their 2011 NTA National Conference. Dr. Taylor will be sorely missed by the national and local Baltimore STEM community. Fred Oliver Former Physics Professor, Morgan State University

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