Massey, Walter on 2020 July 28

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Abstract/Description: In this interview Walter Massey, chairman of the board of the Giant Magellan Telescope organization, discusses his life and career. Massey describes his childhood in segregated Mississippi and his academic achievements that led to his admission to Morehouse College from the 10th grade. He describes his developing interest in physics during a formative summer program at Columbia, which convinced him that he could compete at high levels. Massey describes his graduate work at Washington University and how he came to be a student of Eugene Feenberg, who was working on correlated basis functions to many-body physics problems. He discusses his postdoctoral work at Argonne Laboratory and his interest in becoming involved in civil rights issues in the late 1960s, when he became a professor at the University of Illinois. Massey describes his subsequent tenure at Brown, where he focused on mixtures of helium-3 and helium 4 and on the problem of sound dispersion. He discusses the impact of an ACE fellowship which led to his work in the chancellors office at UC Santa Cruz, which in turn changed the course of his career trajectory toward policy. Massey describes his tenure at the University of Chicago, his directorship at Argonne, and how he worked through the existential challenge of nuclear energy following the Three Mile Island disaster. He explains his decision to accept an offer to head the National Science Foundation and how he grappled with creating a national science policy in a post-Cold War world. He discusses his work in support of the LIGO project and he explains his decision to lead Morehouse College after a brief appointment with the University of California. Massey reflects on his accomplishment at Morehouse, and he describes the ways the college had changed since his time there as a student. At the end of the interview, Massey discusses his work on the board of Bank of America and for the School of Art Institute of Chicago, and he discusses some of the ongoing challenges and areas of improvement to pursue in promoting diversity in the sciences.
Subject(s): Feenberg, Eugene
Massey, Walter E
Argonne National Laboratory
Art Institute of Chicago
Brown University
Columbia University
Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory.
Morehouse College (Atlanta, Ga.)
National Science Foundation (U.S.)
Three Mile Island Nuclear Power Plant (Pa.)
University of California, Santa Cruz
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Washington University (Saint Louis, Mo.)
African Americans -- Education
Art and science
Nuclear energy
Physics -- Education
Racism in education -- United States
Science and state
Telescopes -- Design and construction