J. Ernest Wilkins, Jr.


J. Ernest Wilkins, Jr.
Associated organizations
Nuclear Development Corporation of America, General Dynamics Corporation
Fields of study
Nuclear physics


Jesse Ernest Wilkins, Jr. was born in 27 November 1923. At the age of 13, in 1936, he entered the University of Chicago and in 1942, became the seventh African American to obtain a Ph.D. in Mathematics. After the Ph.D., Wilkins taught at the Tuskegee Institute, was involved in the Manhattan Project, and worked at various institutions, including the Nuclear Development Corporation of America and General Dynamics Corporation. In 1970, he was appointed as Distinguished Professor of Applied Mathematical Physics at Howard University.

One of Wilkins’ major achievements has been the development of radiation shielding against gamma radiation, emitted during electron decay of the Sun and other nuclear sources. Wilkins developed mathematical models to calculate the amount of gamma radiation absorbed by a given material.

In 1976, J. Ernest Wilkins Jr. became the second African American to be named to the National Academy of Engineering.