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Meet Dr. Paul Ruffin

Pastor, Physicist, Professor




Dr. Ruffin attended the public schools of Choctaw County (South Alabama).  He entered Southern Choctaw High School (SCHS) as a member of the first Freshman Class to integrate SCHS in 1969.  He received the B. S. Degree in Physics from Alabama A&M University in 1977.  During the summer of 1976, he worked at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois (known as Fermilab) as an intern student where he investigated the fall-off of radiation in multi-legged labyrinths and measured radiation levels in beam lines using ionization chambers.  Dr. Ruffin was the first African American to receive advanced degrees in Physics from any post-secondary school in the State of Alabama, when he earned his M. S. Degree (1982) and his Ph.D. Degree (1986) in Physics from the University of Alabama in Huntsville, Alabama.  He received the Doctor of Ministry (D. Min.) Degree (2014) in Pastoral Care and Ministry from the Minnesota Graduate School of Theology.




Dr. Ruffin began his professional career in industry as an Associate Member of the Technical Staff at Dynetics, Inc. in May 1977.  He became a Government employee in October 1982 when he accepted employment with the U. S. Army Missile Command.  He professionally progressed from a bench scientist in 1982, to a Team Leader in 1989, to a Supervisory Physicist in 1993, to a Senior Research Physicist in 1995, and lastly (in 2003) to a Senior Research Scientist (ST), which is one of only 40 positions within the entire U. S. Army civilian workforce.  In this position, Dr. Ruffin served as the Army’s Senior Research Scientist for Micro-Sensors and Systems.


Dr. Ruffin is currently a Senior Research Professor at Alabama A&M University.  He has served as an Adjunct Professor in the Physics Department at the university since 1979.  He gained global status in the field of applied science during his career as a Research Physicist conducting exploratory and advanced research and development in Fiber-optic communication, Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS), and Nanotechnology at the U. S. Army Aviation and Missile Research, Development, and Engineering Center (AMRDEC).  In July 2003, Dr. Ruffin was promoted to the highest rank for a research scientist — Senior Research Scientist (ST) — that anyone could achieve in Government service, making him the first African American to ever attain such status in the Civilian Army workforce.  He retired from AMRDEC in March 2013 after serving 32 plus years.


Technical Achievements


Dr. Ruffin is a nationally recognized authority and leader in the field of Fiber Optics, MEMS, and Nanotechnology as evidenced by honors, citations, and prestigious awards received from major national organizations for his accomplishments.  As a Senior Research Scientist at AMRDEC, he provided technical leadership and direction for research and development programs in the areas of micro- and nanometer-scale technologies to achieve improvements in system performance over military environments, reduction in weapons components size and cost, and enhanced reliability.  He led a research team that developed exclusive MEMS modeling design tools, along with unique MEMS device fabrication techniques and world-class facilities.  His technical contributions and leadership in the inertial MEMS technology area raised the US Army’s inertial MEMS design and development capabilities to global recognition.  He served as a member of the Technical Advisory Board (TAB) for the Army’s Institute of Soldier Nanotechnologies Program and the Army SBIR Technical Area Chief (TAC) for Tech Area 4 – Simulation and Modeling for Acquisition, Requirements, and Training (SMART).  His research in Fiber Optics, MEMS, and Nanotechnology resulted in 8 patents, 7 book chapter publications, and numerous peer-reviewed journal articles.  His fiber winding patent solved the 20-year old problem associated with adverse temperature effects on Fiber Optics Gyroscopes (FOGs) performance.  Dr. Ruffin published the advanced technologies for FOGs in a chapter of the Book entitled “Fiber Optics Sensors,” Marcel Dekker, Inc., 2002.  He is the Co-Editor of a Textbook “Fiber Optics Sensors: Second Edition,” CRC Press, 2007.  One of his latest patents, “Nano Smart Needle for Precision Sensing and Treatment that Promotes Healing in Living Tissue,” reveals a noninvasive technique for treating cancer patients.


Notable Attainments


  • First Person from Gilbertown, Alabama to Receive a Doctorate Degree in Physics

  • First African American to receive Advanced Degrees (M. S. and Ph.D.) in Physics from any post-secondary school (Higher Learning) in the State of Alabama

  • First civilian to be appointed Senior Research Scientist (ST) for Micro-Sensors and Systems, the highest rank for a research scientist within the Army civilian workforce

  • First African American to be promoted to this Senior Executive Service (SES)-level position

  • Spin off military products from Fiber Optic Technologies developed under Dr. Ruffin’s technical leadership that is in use in military systems include: Geolocation and Surveillance Sensor Systems, Aircraft and Land Navigation Systems, and Fiber Optic Data Links in Unmanned Aerial and Ground Vehicles

  • Spin off commercial products from Micro Electro-Mechanical Systems (MEMS) Technologies developed under Dr. Ruffin’s technical leadership that is in use in the commercial sector include: Accelerometers in Airbags, Automobile Navigation Systems, Inertial Measurement Units and GPS Systems, Antilock Braking Systems, Rollover Detection Systems, Image Stabilization Devices, Platform Stabilization Systems, and Micro Sensors and Actuators in Cell Phones and Tablets

  • Featured Speaker at a number of Public Events (e.g. MLK Memorial Breakfast in Mobile, AL)

  • Featured in National Journals (e.g. Black Engineer Magazine)

  • Recipient of Numerous Prestigious Awards (e.g. Meritorious Presidential Rank Award)

  • Authored/Co-authored more than 180 Technical Publications

  • 8 Patent/Invention Awards

  • Canadian Patent Award

  • SPIE Fellow

  • Mentored more than 100 students over 25 years


Community Outreach


Dr. Ruffin is the President of Tender Love Family Ministries, Inc. – a non-profit organization whose primary mission is to minister to the youth via public Christian concerts and teaching events/media.  He has hosted the “Biblical Truths for Abundant Life” Radio Broadcast since February 2003.  He devotes a great deal of his time providing assistance to the economically disadvantaged in the community and ministering to the downtrodden and brokenhearted.  From 2004 to 2006, he served as Director of the Dr. Paul B. Ruffin Math Tutoring Academy (named in his honor) – a science and math tutoring support activity initiated to assist K-9 students that reside in public housing in the Huntsville, Alabama area.


Dr. Ruffin has served the professional and technical communities by his mentoring of high-school and undergraduate students during the Army’s summer intern programs, teaching Physics, Optics, and Fiber Optics courses at Alabama A&M University (AAMU) in his capacity as Adjunct Professor, and serving as the Director of Education for the Huntsville Association of Technical Societies (HATS) where he was responsible for designing science enrichment programs for K-12 students from 1998 to 2008.  Dr. Ruffin conducted lectures/seminars to educate/motivate high school students participating in Science Fairs at the Sci.Quest, North Alabama Science Center and young college-age students participating in the National Science Foundation Workshop/Short Course on Sensor Science and Technology at AAMU for scientific pursuits.  In addition, Dr. Ruffin has served as a judge for the State of Alabama Science Fairs and served on graduate students advisory committees at AAMU, the University of Alabama in Huntsville, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, Massachusetts.


Awards, Honors, Recognitions, and Distinctions


Dr. Ruffin has received the highest honor that the Army gives for research and development from the Secretary of the Army – the Army Research and Development Achievement Award.  He received national acknowledgement as the Black Engineer of the Year: Special Recognition Recipient by the Council of Engineering Deans for Historically Black Universities, the Technologist of the Year Award from the National Society of Black Engineers, the United Negro College Fund Educator Award, Top Ten Army Materiel Command Personnel of the Year Award, the Material Acquisition/Technology Award from the American Defense Preparedness Association, the Black Engineer of the Year STEM Minorities in Research Science's (MiRS) Professional Achievement Emerald Award, Inspiring Young Minds to Succeed STEM Award, Stars Fell on Alabama Science Award, and recognition for a Canadian Patent.  In 2011, President Barack Obama bestowed upon Dr. Ruffin the Rank of Meritorious Senior Professional for sustained superior accomplishment in the conduct of programs of the U. S. Government and noteworthy achievement of quality and efficiency in public service.  On June 29, 2011, the Secretary of the Army, Mr. John M. McHugh, presented Dr. Ruffin with the 2010 Presidential Rank Awards of Meritorious Executive.  Dr. Ruffin was presented two Civilian Service Medals of the U. S. Federal Government for sustained meritorious service: the Department of the Army Decoration for Exceptional Civilian Service Medal  and the Department of the Army Commander's Award for Civilian Service.


Both Schools of Higher Learning from which Dr. Ruffin matriculated have recognized his technical accomplishments.  In May 1997, he was presented the Class Achievement Award from Alabama A&M University Class of 1977 and in May 2005, he was inducted into the Alabama A&M Alumni Hall of Fame in Science.  In July 2005, he was presented the William Hooper Councill Alumni Award.  In April 2003, he was presented the Alumni of Achievement Award from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and in April 2005 the College of Science presented him with the Distinguished Alumnus Award.


Dr. Ruffin has been featured in national journals such as the Black Engineer Magazine (April 2004), Huntsville, Alabama Chamber of Commerce Initiatives Magazine (February 2006), COGIC Inspiration Today Magazine (November 2011), COGIC Be Well Today Magazine (January 2013), and the US Black Engineer Information Technology Magazine (February 2013).  Additionally, he has served as the featured speaker at a number of public events including the 21st Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Breakfast held at Bishop State Community College in Mobile, Alabama sponsored by the Port City Chapter of Blacks In Government Inc. on Monday, January 18, 2010, the 3rd Annual Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Day “Increasing Global Competitiveness Through STEM” at Alabama A&M University on April 3, 2009, etc.


Professional Organizations


Dr. Ruffin has maintained active membership in professional and scientific societies including the International Society for Optical Engineering (Education Committee, Conference Program Committee, etc.), the Optical Society of America (Reviewer of Refereed Journal Papers), the Institute of Navigation (Conference Speaker) the National Society of Black Engineers (Community Outreach Committee), and the Association of the United States Army since 1988.  In 2005, he was promoted to the distinction of Fellow of SPIE International Society for Optical Engineering.


Ecclesiastical Assignments


Dr. Paul B. Ruffin was saved, sanctified, and filled with the Holy Ghost at the age of 14 in his father’s church, Community Glorious Church of God in Christ (COGIC) in Gilbertown, Alabama.  God has anointed and graciously bestowed upon him the spiritual gift of teaching.  For the past 35 years, Dr. Ruffin has been operating in his gift via serving as an Assistant Dean and Instructor in the O. L. Meadows School of Ministry (FKA the C. H. Mason System of Bible Colleges)/Minnesota Graduate School of Theology, Education Director and Instructor in COGIC International Sunday School University, and Host of the Radio Broadcast, “Biblical Truths for Abundant Life.”  He currently serves as the Director of the “Biblical Science Institute” in Sunday School University of the Church of God in Christ International Sunday School Department.  He is the Jurisdictional Sunday School Superintendent of Alabama 1st Jurisdiction.  In September 2013, Bishop O. L. Meadows appointed Dr. Ruffin Chairman of the Jurisdictional AIM.


Dr. Ruffin has served as pastor of the Forge Temple Church of God in Christ in Birmingham, Alabama, since 2005.  Progress under Dr. Ruffin’s 9-year pastoral leadership include: a radio ministry established on WAGG 610 AM in Birmingham, Alabama; parcel of land purchased for the construction of a new sanctuary and associated facilities; number of Sunday School classes increased from 1 to 5; missions, evangelism, men, women, music, youth and children ministries organized; two deacons trained and ordained; three women trained and recommended for licensing; and ushers, hospitality, nurses unit, young women Christian Counsel, Christian Women Counseling, and college campus ministries organized.  Some of the achievements include: a notable number of people saved, healed, and delivered from addictions such as: drugs, alcohol addiction, nicotine, pornography; church membership has increased moderately each year; the choir produced their first CD, architectural model for new church edifice, etc.  Many miracles have been witnessed as a result of fervent prayer, e.g., approximately a third of the membership got a new job or a promotion during the current year.  In February 2012, Dr. Ruffin was presented the Pastoral Humanitarian Award by the Alabama People’s Choice for his untiring deeds in public service.




Dr. Ruffin is married to Evangelist Vetrea Slack Ruffin, who is a national gospel recording artist.  Their two daughters, Lacretia Ruffin Conaway and Angelica Ruffin, both graduated from Alabama A&M University. Lacretia’s husband, Kellen Conaway, is also an Alabama A&M University graduate.  Dr. Ruffin and his wife have three grandchildren (Jared, Victoria, and Kellen II). They presently reside in the Huntsville/Tennessee Valley area.


Paul B. Ruffin, Wikipedia (

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