From NKAA, Notable Kentucky African Americans Database (main entry)

Lawson, James Raymond

(born: 1915  -  died: 1996) 

Born in Louisville, KY, James R. Lawson was the first student to receive a degree in physics from Fisk University. He developed a research program in infrared spectroscopy, which was the beginning of the Fisk Infrared Research Laboratory.

Lawson served as president of Fisk from 1967 to 1977 and later became director of the Office of University Affairs, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in Washington D.C.

For more see N. Fuson, "Brief History of The Physics Department at Fisk University Including Its Infrared Spectroscopy And Other Research Programs,"  Tennessee Tribune, 2/18/1997; The Fascinating Story of Black Kentuckians, by A. A. Dunnigan;"Profiles of African Americans in Tennessee (James Raymond Lawson, 1915-1996" at the Tennessee State University Library website;

See a photograph that includes James R. Lawson on p. 66 in Ebony, April 1974.

Item Relations

Cited in this Entry

NKAA Entry: Dunnigan, Alice A.
NKAA Source: Fascinating story of Black Kentuckians : their heritage and traditions
NKAA Source: Tennessee tribune (newspaper)

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Cite This NKAA Entry:

“Lawson, James Raymond,” Notable Kentucky African Americans Database, accessed June 15, 2024,

Last modified: 2021-11-05 16:59:58