S. James Gates Jr., Ford Foundation Professor of Physics at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, has been named to the presidential line of the American Physical Society, a nonprofit organization that represents more than 55,000 physicists in higher education and the physics industry worldwide. Dr. Gates will serve as vice president in 2019, president-elect in 2020, and president in 2021.
Before joining the Brown faculty in May 2017, Dr. Gates served as a professor at the University of Maryland for 33 years. His research interests include theoretical physics, specifically the areas of supersymmetry and supergravity. He has won the National Medal of Science, which is the highest honor bestowed upon American scientists by the U.S. President.
Professor Gates is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, serves on the board of trustees of Society for Science and the Public, and was a member on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology under President Obama. He is a co-author of the supersymmetry textbook, Superspace or One Thousand and One Lessons in Supersymmetry (Addison-Wesley, 1983).
Dr. Gates holds two bachelor’s degrees, one in mathematics and one in physics, and a Ph.D. in physics all from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
$1.5 million grant gifted to Michigan State University by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will go towards the cultivation of a database that harbors information about former slaves, MSU Today reported.
The database, which is part of the institution’sEnslaved: The People of the Historic Slave Trade initiative, will encompass data surrounding those who came to America during the Atlantic slave trade; giving individuals the opportunity to explore their ancestry, the news outlet writes. Individuals who utilize the database will also be able to view maps, charts, and graphics about enslaved populations.
The project is being spearheaded by Dean Rehberger, director of Matrix: The Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at MSU, Walter Hawthorne, professor and chair of MSU’s Department of History and Ethan Watrall, who serves as an assistant professor of anthropology at the university.
MSU Today reports that the project will go through several phases and take nearly a year and a half to be completed.
Hawthorne believes that the database will allow scholars to delve deeper into the dark history of slavery. “By linking data compiled by some of the world’s foremost historians, it will allow scholars and the public to learn about individuals’ lives and to draw new, broad conclusions about processes that had an indelible impact on the world,” he said in a statement, according to the source.
Michigan State University has one of the top African history graduate programs in the country and leaders at the institution believe that this new project will further its impact in this space. Institutions who have partnered with MSU for the project include Emory University, Vanderbilt University, Harvard University, the University of Maryland and others.
Slavery has been a common topic at colleges and universities across the country with many institutions coming forward to acknowledge and come to terms with their ties to slavery. Rutgers University recently paid tribute to former slaves by renaming parts of its campus after individuals who built the university from the ground up.
Following the literary and film success of “Hidden Figures,” author Margot Lee Shetterly will turn her attention to two little-known but prominent Black families in Baltimore. Viking Books announced today (April 10) that it has acquired the rights to Shetterly’s next two books.
The first will focus on the mid 20th-century achievements of the Murphys, a publishing family, and the entrepreneurial Adams family. As described by PBS, formerly enslaved patriarch John Henry Murphy founded the The Afro-American newspaper and turned it, with his children, into one of the country’s most widely-read Black titles.
The paper tackled Jim Crow, the lack of Black representation in Baltimore government and other racial justice issues throughout its existence. The Murphys used this influence to successfully advocate local change, including desegregating the University of Maryland‘s law school.
A 2011 Baltimore Sun obituary for Adams family leader William “Little Willie” Adams notes that he and his schoolteacher-turned-politician wife Victorine spun wealth generated in the Great Depression-era underground economy into systematic venture capital and philanthropy. Their investments and donations sustained Black business development, employment and political clout for decades in Baltimore.
According to a Viking press statement about the not-yet titled book, “Shetterly will bring the history of Baltimore to life through the success stories of the Adamses and the Murphys, also showing the contrasting challenges faced by those left behind by redlining, lack of economic opportunity, and urban decay.”
The second book lacks a fixed topic but will also uncover the history of hidden Black figures.
NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps is set to become the first African-American crewmember on the International Space Station when she flies to space next year, the space agency announced Wednesday.
Epps’ months-long trip should begin in 2018, and it will mark the first time she has traveled to orbit, following in the footsteps of the women who inspired her to become an astronaut. “It was about 1980, I was nine years old. My brother came home and he looked at my grades and my twin sisters’ grades and he said, ‘You know, you guys can probably become aerospace engineers or even astronauts,'” Epps said in a NASA video interview.
“And this was at the time that Sally Ride [the first American woman to fly in space] and a group of women were selected to become astronauts — the first time in history. So, he made that comment and I said, ‘Wow, that would be so cool.'” While other African-American astronauts have flown to the Space Station for brief stays during the outpost’s construction, Epps will be the first African-American crewmember to live and work on the station for an extended period of time.
“Robert Curbeam, Stephanie Wilson, Joan Higginbotham, Al Drew, Leland Melvin and Robert Satcher, along with their space shuttle crewmates, helped to complete the space station during its first 11 years,” space historian Robert Pearlman, who runs the website collectSPACE.com, told Mashable.
Melvin actually encouraged Epps to apply to become an astronaut when the space agency put out a call for their 2009 class, Epps said. And that encouragement paid off. Epps was selected as one of 14 astronaut candidates in NASA’s 2009 class. NASA received 3,500 astronaut applications that year. Her astronaut selection wasn’t the first time she worked with the space agency, however. Epps was a NASA fellow while at the University of Maryland for graduate school in aerospace engineering and then worked in a lab at Ford Motor Company for more than two years, according to the space agency.
From there, Epps’ path to becoming an astronaut takes a decidedly atypical turn. Most astronauts come to the Astronaut Corps either through training in science or as a military officer, but after Ford, Epps spent more than seven years at the Central Intelligence Agency as a technical intelligence officer.”I did a lot of scientific stuff, but I also did a lot of operational stuff,” Epps said. “We worked in non-proliferation issues, which was great. It’s reverse engineering at its best.” Epps also volunteered to go to Iraq with the CIA for four months to help search for weapons of mass destruction.
A new study authored by scholars at Wellesley College and the University of Maryland found that children who watched Sesame Street when it was first broadcast nearly a half century ago, did better in school as they got older. The data shows that exposure to Sesame Street was particularly beneficial to African Americans and children living in economically disadvantaged areas.
The data shows that Black children who lived in areas where Sesame Street was broadcast on stronger VHF channels where reception was more reliable and viewership was higher reduced their likelihood of being below grade level on academic assessment tests by 13.7 percent several years later when they were in elementary school.
Phillip B. Levine, an economist at Wellesley College and co-author of the study, said that “it is remarkable that a single intervention consisting of watching a television show for an hour a day in preschool can have such a substantial effect helping kids advance through school. Our analysis suggests that Sesame Street may be the biggest and most affordable early childhood intervention out there, at a cost of a just few dollars per child per year, with benefits that can last several years.”
Co-author Melissa Kearney, an economist at the University of Maryland, added that “it is quite encouraging to find that something so readily accessible and inexpensive as Sesame Street has the potential to have such a positive impact on children’s school performance, in particular for children from economically disadvantaged communities. These findings raise the exciting possibility that TV and electronic media more generally can be leveraged to address income and racial gaps in children’s school readiness.”
The article, “Early Childhood Education by MOOC: Lessons From Sesame Street,” was published on the website of the National Bureau of Economic Research. It may be accessed here.
The University of Maryland has announced that it will build Frederick Douglass Square on the College Park campus to honor the former slave and abolitionist. The new square will feature quotations from Douglass displayed on a steel wall. The wall will be surrounding by paving squares, flower beds, benches, and accent lighting.
The project was spearheaded by Ira Berlin, Distinguished University Professor of History at the University of Maryland. Professor Berlin is the author of several books on American slavery.
At the ceremony announcing the square, Professor Berlin said that “nothing could be more appropriate than representing Frederick Douglass and his words at the University of Maryland. No man or woman has better stood for the ideals upon which the University was founded and the principles in which the people of Maryland believe. Douglass stood for fairness, justice, racial, gender, sexual, and religious equity.”
The university has allocated $375,000 for the project and groundbreaking is scheduled for later this year. Supporters of the square hope to raise additional funds to add a statue of Frederick Douglass to the square.