Their achievements of the past continue to help shape and define the essence of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) today. This is the legacy of such early innovators as: Benjamin Banneker, the mathematician who helped map out and plan the city of Washington, D.C.; Charles Drew, the surgeon who pioneered blood transfusion; Garret Morgan, who invented the gas mask and the modern traffic light; botanist George Washington Carver, whose innovations with the peanut and other plants continue to enrich our lives and made him a trusted science advisor to such luminaries as President Teddy Roosevelt and Henry Ford; and Marie Daly, the first African American woman to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry, and an early innovator in the study of heart disease.
In observance of Black History Month in February, the Festival recognizes the accomplishments of these and many other black pioneers and the important role they have played in paving the way for modern-day African American STEM leaders and innovators, who include such inspiring role models as: Stephanie C. Hill, computer engineer and Vice President and General Manager of Lockheed Martin Information Systems & Global Solutions Civil line of business; Benjamin Carson, the world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon and medical researcher who was the first surgeon to successfully separate Siamese twins who had been conjoined at the head; and physicist Shirley Ann Jackson, President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
Also included in this esteemed cadre of achievers are members of the Festival's Nifty Fifty (times 3) school speakers program, which represents 150 of the nation's most engaging, high-profile leaders in STEM. As we celebrate Black History Month, we'd like to introduce you to key African American STEM innovators in the program who will be engaging students in the coming weeks about their work and careers in STEM during visits to middle and high schools throughout the Washington, D.C. metro area. All this as we gear up for the Festival Expo, April 25-27 in DC!
These exciting Nifty Fifty speakers include:
Sylvester James Gates, Ph.D. – He is the first African American to hold an endowed chair in physics at a major research center (the University of Maryland) in the country, and is currently conducting highly acclaimed research into the mysteries of superstring theory, supersymmetry, supergravity and other areas of physics!
Reginald Brothers, Ph.D. – At a time when the nation stands ready to respond swiftly and effectively to military and security threats around the world at moment's notice, his position as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Research at the U.S. Department of Defense is critical in assuring that we have the necessary science and technological innovation to accomplish the mission!
Aprille Ericsson, Ph.D.– A true trailblazer in the field of aerospace engineering, she was the first African American female to receive a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Howard University and the first African American female at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center to hold a Ph.D. in Engineering. She is now at the cutting-edge of some of the most ambitious space exploration endeavors at NASA.
Baratunde "Bara" Cola, Ph.D. –This professor of Mechanical Engineering and former college football star was recently honored by President Obama as one of the nation's promising young innovators for his groundbreaking work in the emerging scientific field of exploiting energy transport processes at the nanoscale.
Dot Harris – Known as an innovator in the energy industry, this engineer-entrepreneur was recently appointed by President Obama as Director of the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Economic Impact and Diversity. Discover through this post how she is helping to prepare and empower women and minorities for the challenging STEM workforce of tomorrow.
Ainissa Ramirez, Ph.D.– Discover how this noted materials scientist, through her groundbreaking research in 'smart' metals and solders, is helping to revolutionize the way alloys are used in everything from cell phones to life-saving medical devices.
Linda Cureton – As the former Chief Information Officer at NASA, she was the space agency's go-to person on a wide range of challenges related to Information Technology in the space age – from information storage to social media and cyber security! Discover what it's like to keep NASA and its scientists and employees on the cutting edge of IT.
Herman White, Ph.D. – He smashes atoms for a living. Discover why you'll never take for granted quarks, protons and electrons again after hearing this prominent quantum physicist from the renowned Fermi National Laboratory.
For a complete look at bios for all Nifty Speakers scheduled for Festival 2014, visit this link.
In addition, be further inspired by the achievements of STEM pioneers of the past and present by visiting the Festival's Role Models in Science and Engineering website!