Pete Bragg: Materials science pioneer
Whether he was studying the characteristics of materials or working to expand diversity within the engineering profession, materials science and engineering professor Robert “Pete” Bragg Jr. knew that each component of a unit was important to the strength of the whole. A passionate researcher, Bragg established himself as a leading expert in X-ray crystallography, X-ray diffraction and the electronic properties of carbon materials.
When he joined the Berkeley faculty in 1969, Bragg was the only African-American in the materials science and engineering department — where he served as department chair from 1978–81 — and one of six African-American faculty members on campus. Over the ensuing decades, he demonstrated a deep commitment to science as well as to the African-American community. Bragg fought for the increased hiring of minority faculty members; oversaw key diversity programs, including the Chancellor Minority Fellowship; was the first sponsor of the Black Engineering and Science Students Association (BESSA) and served on the advisory board of the Black Studies program. Among his many honors, he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship and was a fellow of the National Society of Black Physicists.