Dr. Arlie O. Petters

Born in Dangriga, Belize, Dr. Petters 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 fields. 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 street 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 in 1991. Dr. Petters was the first to develop the mathematical theory of gravitational lensing. He also pioneered new applications of gravitational lensing in physics, predicting effects that probe the nature of spacetime around black holes and developing tests of gravitational theories like Einstein's general 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 professionals.

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.