Born in Dangriga, Belize,
immigrated to the U.S.A. in his mid-teens,
where he became a citizen and has had a stellar academic career.
He founded the Petters Research Institute in 2005 as a way of giving back
to Belize. The institute
is a center of excellence in mathematics, science, and technology,
and fosters national development through entrepreneurship in these
His vision for the country
is to create economic growth through
high-technology industries that draw on
Belizean intellectual capital.
In recognition of Dr. Petters's scientific and educational work, he was named
in 2008 by the Queen of England to Membership in the
Most Excellent Order of the British Empire and in 2009 a
was named in his honor
in Dangriga, Belize.
In 1986, Dr. Petters received simultaneously a B.A., with major in mathematics and
physics, and an M.A. in mathematics from Hunter College of
the City University of New York. He earned his Ph.D. in mathematics from MIT
Dr. Petters was the first to develop the mathematical theory of gravitational
lensing. He also pioneered new applications of gravitational lensing
that probe the nature of spacetime
around black holes and developing tests of gravitational theories like
relativity and hyperspace gravitational models.
He has received numerous awards for his research, including an Alfred
P. Sloan Fellowship, a National Science Foundation Career Award, and
the first Blackwell-Tapia Prize in the Mathematical Sciences.
Hunter College honored Dr. Petters in 1999 by inducting him
into the Hunter College Hall of Fame and in 2008, by awarding him
an honorary Doctor of Science degree.
In 2006, the National Academy of Sciences in the U.S.A.
honored Dr. Petters by inducting him into its Portrait Collection
of Distinguished African American Scientists. His portrait is on
permanent display in
the National Academies Keck Center in Washington, DC.
Dr. Petters is the author of four books. He is
also a notable teacher who has taught the fundamental
mathematical methods used in science, engineering, and finance, and has
been a celebrated mentor to numerous students, faculty, and
He was on the faculty at MIT and Princeton University, and is currently
a Professor of Mathematics, Physics, and Business Administration at Duke University. In
recognition for his excellence in research and distinction in teaching,
he was elected to Duke's prestigious Bass Society of Fellows.