Born and raised in New Jersey, Mintz earned his doctoral degree in 1951 from Columbia University. He joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1975 after teaching at Yale University for 24 years. During his time at Hopkins, he was well-known for his research on Caribbean societies, the anthropology of food, and Afro-Caribbean traditions. A lecture fund was established in his honor in 1993, which he converted into the Sidney Mintz Student Fellowships in 2014 to support summer field research for graduate students.
Mintz was the recipient of numerous awards, including Guggenheim, Fulbright, and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships. He received honorary degrees from Trinity College, Oberlin College, the University of Puerto Rico, and the University of the West Indies and was a visiting professor at several institutions worldwide. He was also the author of several books and hundreds of articles and reviews.
A native of North Carolina, Walker graduated from Harvard in 1956, majoring in physics, and received his PhD in nuclear physics from Princeton in 1961. He joined the Johns Hopkins faculty in 1963 and stayed until his retirement in 2001. He served as chair of the department from 1987 to 1993 and also served on the Homewood Academic Council.
Walker was well-known for his notable contributions to the study of recoilless nuclear gamma ray resonances, better known as Mössbauer spectroscopy, in the 1960s. He particularly helped pioneer the Mössbauer effect after Coulomb excitation of the atomic nucleus. His interests shifted to condensed matter physics in the 1970s with
an emphasis in ultrathin epitaxial films fabricated by the (then newly developed) molecular beam epitaxy technique, which he termed “money-burning evaporator.” Walker’s best-known work was in the area of the magnetic properties of ultrathin iron films and, along with his students, he was able to map out for the first time the variation in materials.