Physics Professor Produces Patents

Elliott Treadwell is passionate about physics, his students and his family. For 14 years, Treadwell has been a physics professor at Florida A&M. Throughout his tenure, he has contributed to making FAMU a producer of 30 percent of blacks in the nation with doctorate degrees in Physics.

In 2010, FAMU, Treadwell and Ely Leon collectively received a U.S. patent for the Threshold Ceronkov Detector with Radial Segmentation.

Originally from Rockford, Ill., Treadwell received his bachelor’s degree in math and physics from Central State University, his master’s in nuclear physics from Stony Brook University and his doctorate in experimental high energy physics from Cornell University.

Treadwell said his best discovery was made at Cornell while completing his thesis experiment for his Ph.D.

“I discovered a fine meson, which is a sub-atomic particle that resides in the nucleus of the atom,” Treadwell said. “I was so excited. Cornell said it was worth a Ph.D. So I got my degree.”

After getting his Ph.D., Treadwell taught at Chicago State University for eight years and helped establish the physics program there. In 1995, he studied particle physics at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Genève. In 1997, he and his family moved to Tallahassee and Treadwell became a physics professor at FAMU.

Treadwell’s students appreciate his caring spirit. Gloria Mason, 22, a professional MBA candidate from Alexandria, Va., had Treadwell for Physics 2.

“He was great, always considerate and helpful,” Mason said. “As 5-year MBA students, we have to take physics, which is totally out of element. He understood that and was always helpful in ensuring we understood, whether it be office hours or allowing us to work out problems on the board.”

Treadwell’s students aren’t the only people who admire him. His wife, Venita, said she loves his kindness.

“He always thinks of others. He doesn’t judge people. Another quality about him that I think is fine is he is a fighter,” she said. “When he feels he is right he does not give up for anybody or anything.”

Both of Treadwell’s daughters, Meagen and Leeanna, attend FAMU. Meagan, 19, a first-year environmental science student from Tallahassee, enjoys attending a university where her father is a professor.

“I feel more connected to him. It makes me very happy because it feels like I have someone who really cares about me at school,” Meagen said. “Having him there, I know I have someone who is looking out for me.”

Treadwell enjoys spending time with his family, relaxing and watching TV. He is also very fond of jazz music and plays the soprano and tenor saxophone. He reminisced about his days playing with his band in New York and opening for Donnie Hathaway in Ithaca, N.Y. He loves jazz icons like Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Charlie Parker.

Treadwell is also working on the Choice Experiment, a collaboration with Harvard University. He built an X-ray machine that specifically looks for lead deposits in the bones.

“We studied the black community in Gaston County and they studied the black community in Boston,” Treadwell said. “We are hoping to find a correlation between lead and hypertension.”