Local News

Duke Professor Honored by Queen of England

Posted January 7, 2008 9:17 a.m. EST
Updated January 7, 2008 11:28 a.m. EST

 Duke University

— A Duke University professor was recently recognized by the Queen of England as a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

The award cited his “services to science and education.”

“It’s very humbling to be recognized in this unexpected way,” said Arlie Petters, a professor of mathematics and physics from the British Commonwealth nation of Belize in Central America.

At Duke, Petters’ research involves developing mathematical equations to describe how light interacts with cosmic entities such as black holes. He also runs university programs that encourage under-represented minorities to pursue careers in mathematics and science.

In his native Belize, he leads the Petters Research Institute, which trains students in mathematics, the sciences and technology.

“Our institute is serving as a catalyst in Belize to promote a new track of economic growth through high-tech industries,” he said. “I think people recognize the importance of having industries that draw upon the intellectual capital of the nation.”

Petters was one of 972 citizens in the British Commonwealth to be given an honorary award on the new year. The awards include the Knight Grand Cross and Knight Commander, which confer the title “Sir” and have their origins in the Middle Ages.

Petters’ Member of British Empire award is the most common of the honorary awards and is given for hands-on service to a local community.