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Welcome to 100 Black Innovators in 10 Days, a campaign aiming to showcase the work, voices, and impact that these innovators have had throughout history. Today we are featuring the work of 10 Black Innovators in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. These brilliant minds committed their time and energy to continue pushing all of humankind forward through continued advancements in physics, solar technology, and space travel.
Katherine Johnson (1918 - 2020)
Johnson was a mathematician who conducted mathematical calculations for NASA critical to the success of the U.S. space program, as depicted in the film "Hidden Figures". In 2015, at age 97, Johnson added another extraordinary achievement to her long list: President Barack Obama awarded her the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor.
Mae Jemison (1956 - )
Mae Carol Jemison is an American engineer, physician, and former NASA astronaut. She became the first black woman to travel into space when she served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Jemison joined NASA's astronaut corps in 1987 and was selected to serve for the STS-47 mission, during which she orbited the Earth for nearly eight days on September 12–20, 1992.
Shirley Jackson (1946 - )
A theoretical physicist, Dr. Jackson has had a distinguished career that includes senior leadership positions in academia, government, industry, and research. She holds an S.B. in Physics and a Ph.D. in Theoretical Elementary Particle Physics. She is the first African-American woman to receive a doctorate from MIT—in any field—and has been a trailblazer throughout her career, including as the first African-American woman to lead a top-ranked research university.
Neil deGrasse Tyson (1958 - )
Neil deGrasse Tyson is an American astrophysicist, cosmologist, planetary scientist, author, and science communicator. Tyson is the fifth head of the world-renowned Hayden Planetarium in New York City. His professional research interests are broad but include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of our Milky Way.
Angela Benton (1981 - )
Angela Benton is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Streamlytics, which uses first-party media consumption data to bring transparency to what people are streaming on today’s most popular streaming services while helping consumers own their data in the process. At the helm of Streamlytics, Angela continues to uncover untapped spaces in technology and innovation.
James E. West (1931 - )
James E. West, a research professor at Johns Hopkins University’s Whiting School of Engineering, is best known as the co-inventor of the foil-electret transducer, an inexpensive but highly sensitive device that revolutionized the sound industry and is now the basis of sound transmission in most cell phones, hearing aids, professional microphones, and other acoustical equipment.
George Carruthers (1939 - )
Scientist George Carruthers created inventions, such as the ultraviolet camera, or spectrograph, which was used by NASA in the 1972 Apollo 16 flight, revealing the mysteries of space and the Earth's atmosphere. Carruther patented the "Image Converter," which detects electromagnetic radiation in short wavelengths.
George Washington Carver (~1860 - 1943)
George Washington Carver was a prominent American scientist and inventor in the early 1900s. Carver developed hundreds of products using the peanut, sweet potatoes and soybeans. He also was a champion of crop rotation and agricultural education. Born into slavery, today he is an icon of American ingenuity and the transformative potential of education.
Wanda Austin (1954 - )
Dr. Wanda M. Austin is an American businesswoman who is internationally recognized for her work in aeronautics and systems engineering. She is co-founder of MakingSpace, Inc, a systems engineering and leadership development consultant and motivational speaker. She is the former president and CEO of The Aerospace Corporation, an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to the application of science and technology toward critical issues affecting the nation's space program.
Kimberly Bryant (1967 - )
In 2011, Kimberly Bryant launched Black Girls Code, an organization devoted to teaching young girls of color computer coding and programming languages, such as Scratch and Ruby on Rails. Through classes and programs, Bryant and the rest of the Black Girls Code team hope to grow the number of black women in technology and give underprivileged girls better opportunities.
Want to learn more? Stay tuned as we highlight 100 black innovators from a wide range of fields. We hope you feel inspired by the accomplishments of these immensely talented individuals.
In case you missed it, check out the other innovators we have highlighted so far: