Aerospace engineer Aprille Joy Ericsson ’86, a mission manager at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland and an alumna of MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, recalled Wednesday how a conversation with Martin Luther King Jr. affected a Hollywood actress’s career decision — and in turn helped to inspire Ericsson and many others of her generation to enter the world of aerospace engineering.

Nichelle Nichols, the actress who played Lieutenant Uhura on the original Star Trek series, was not under contract, Ericsson explained in her keynote talk at MIT’s 43rd annual celebration of King’s life and work. “King shared with her that Star Trek was one of the few TV shows he would let his children watch, primarily because of her role as chief technical officer on the Starship Enterprise,” which was so different than most portrayals of African-American women on television. After her conversation with King, Nichols reconsidered her plans to leave the show. She went on to provide a role model that Ericsson said helped propel her and many others into a career in the space program.

“Space travel has become a routine part of our daily lives,” though it remains a dangerous occupation, Ericsson said. Recalling the daring commitment that President John F. Kennedy made, launching the U.S. toward landing on the moon, “I believe that challenge is before us again,” she said.

Ericsson graduated from MIT just four months after the first space shuttle disaster, the Challenger accident in 1986. She earned her doctorate at Howard University and soon after went to work for NASA. “I followed my dream to explore space,” she says. But that road was not without its obstacles. “Discrimination affects us all,” she said. And yet, “inclusion of women and minorities” in working teams of all kinds, “is imperative. When I work with science and engineering teams, I know that each one on that team is important.”

“We scientists are agents of change,” she said. “Let’s embrace [Star Trek creator] Gene Roddenberry’s vision of diversity in space. We must work together across the differences of skin color, gender, and religion. … We are making this journey together, in a drive to make this world a better place.”


Theme: “Lift your voice!” “True peace is not merely the absence of tension: it is the presence of justice.”

Keynote: Dr. Aprille Joy Ericsson, Ph.D.

Program followed by Luncheon

The MIT community gathers every February at a celebration of the life and legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. Speakers have included leaders who are prominent both nationally and in the local Boston/Cambridge community, in accordance with Dr. King’s dual emphasis on global and local issues.

Dr. Aprille Joy Ericsson (MIT ’86) is currently the Capture (Mission) Manager for a proposed Astrophysics Mid-sized Class Explorer, STAR-X. Most recently, she served as the NASA GSFC Program Manager for Small Business Innovative Research/Small Business Technology Transfer Research (SBIR/STTR). Dr. Ericsson has held numerous positions during her 25+ year tenure with NASA. At Howard University, her research involved developing control methods for orbiting large space platforms like ISS. She sits on several Technical Academic boards at the National Academies, MIT, and previously Howard University, where she also served as a member of the Board of Trustees. Dr. Ericsson has won numerous awards and recognitions over the years, including the prestigious “2016 Washington Award” from the Western Society of Engineers. Dr. Ericsson received her B.S. in Aeronautical/Astronautical Engineering from MIT in 1986. She went on to become the first female (and the first African-American female) to receive a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from Howard University, and the first African-American female to receive a Ph.D. in Engineering at NASA GSFC.

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MON, 13 FEB 2017: Ryan Hynd….

Monday, February 13, 11:45am-1pm
MIT Room 6-104 (Chipman Room)

When is the best time to stop?

Ryan Hynd, MLK Visiting Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Assistant Professor of Mathematics, University of Pennsylvania

Suppose that you are observing a sequence of events, and need to decide when to stop. Your goal could be to maximize an expected gain or give yourself good a chance to make the best choice possible.  We will discuss several instances of this type of problem and talk about ways to use math to solve them.

This talk will be accessible to a general audience.

If you are able to attend, please reply to Shauna Bush-Fenty ( with any dietary restrictions, accessibility considerations or other needs.

Please note, this luncheon is distinct from the annual MLK Celebration Luncheon being held February 15. You can find information about this and other events related to community, equity, diversity, and inclusion at If anyone is interested in helping shape the content of one of the upcoming Community Dialogues (the first is February 22), please reply to this email.

Special MLK Program Luncheon

Activism in the Era of MLK, A Conversation with Bob and Janet Moses, and Topper Carew

Wednesday, December 14, 2016
11:45am-1pm (h
ot lunch served starting 11:45am, program begins 12:10pm)
MIT Student Center Mezzanine Lounge, W20-307

Please RSVP here:

Join us for a conversation with activists who worked in the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee and other organizations alongside Martin Luther King, Jr., John Lewis, and other civil rights leaders in the 1960s. Dr. Janet Moses is a pediatrician who worked in MIT Medical, Topper Carew is a filmmaker and Principal Investigator in the Media Lab, and Dr. Robert Moses is founder of the Algebra Project. All were active in Freedom Summer.

DR. TOPPER CAREW is currently a Visiting Researcher/Scholar at the MIT Media Lab. He has earned degrees in Architecture and Environmental Design from Yale and has had fully supporting fellowships at MIT (Community Fellow) and from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (Broadcast Fellow).  The former allowed Carew to complete three films and study at MIT’s then film school.  The latter allowed him to spend time at the BBC/London and at the studios in Hollywood. He also has a Doctorate in Communications from the Union Graduate School/Institute for Policy Studies. Dr. Carew started his film career by making documentaries about the relationship between neighborhood people and architecture, by using it as an empowerment, community organizing and fundraising tool, and by teaching film to inner city kids.  He was founder and Director of The New Thing Art and Architecture Center, an arts program in the Adams Morgan section of Washington, D.C.  Dr. Carew has won more than 40 film and television awards, and 8 Gold Medals for graphic design. He founded an independent production company, Rainbow Television Workshop. It produced series and movies for PBS, HBO, Showtime, Nick and The Disney Channel.  Other projects have aired in prime time on ABC, NBC, and FOX.  His theatrically released films include DC Cab (Universal Pictures) and Breakin‘ and Enterin’ (Shapiro/Glickenhaus). One of his prime time television series, Martin (FOX), enjoys the rarified distinction of having attained off network syndication (TNT,TV One, and MTV). Dr. Carew was appointed to a Presidential Commission on African American History and Culture. He has produced (8) national television series, (15) documentaries, 4 theatrically released films, 15 movies for television and 300 live concerts.

DR. ROBERT “BOB” MOSES and DR. JANET MOSES made tremendous contributions to the continuing civil rights movement. Their unwavering dedication to the progress of all Cambridge residents led to the Area IV Youth Center being renamed the “Dr. Robert and Janet Moses Youth Center”. Bob and Janet were both prominent figures in the Civil Rights Movement who served as field secretaries for the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a position that allowed them to initiate SNCC’s Mississippi Voter Registration Project in 1961, and saw Bob become its director in 1962. A speaker at the first national student rally against the war in Vietnam (organized by Students for a Democratic Society, SDS, Spring 1965), Bob joined Staughton Lynd, Dave Dellinger and Women’s Strike For Peace to organize The Congress of Unrepresented People, spoke out against the war (1965-’66), and left the country in August 1966 when ordered to report to the Army. He and his wife, Dr. Janet Jemmott Moses, made their way to Tanzania where they served as teachers for its Ministry of Education until 1976. Bob and Janet returned to the Area IV neighborhood in Cambridge with their family (Maisha, Omo, Taba and Malaika) where Bob returned to Harvard’s Ph.D. Philosophy program in the summer of 1976. While Janet worked with the children on their language arts, Bob organized their mathematics education and used a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship (1982-87) to enter the King Open School as a parent volunteer, teach children algebra, and initiate the Algebra Project and the use of mathematics as an organizing tool for a Quality Public School Education (QECR) for all students. With support of the National Science Foundation (NSF) since 2002, the AP has been working with cohorts of high school students who previously performed in the lowest quartile on standardized exams; this work has led AP to propose a math high school “benchmark” for bottom quartile students: that they graduate high school on time, in four years, ready to do college math for college credit. The Algebra Project is primarily responsible for the birth of The Young People’s Project (YPP) in Cambridge; over the years, the AP has provided funding, technical assistance, professional development, mentoring and the guidance that has allowed YPP to grow and develop. It is the mission of YPP to use math literacy as a tool to develop young leaders and organizers who radically change the quality of education and life in the Cambridge community so that all children have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Bob recently celebrated his 80th birthday at the MIT Media Lab with his loved ones and the greater Cambridge community.

#Misogynoir, #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, and other forms of Black Digital Feminisms

With Kishonna L. Gray
2016-17 MLK Visiting Scholar in Women & Gender Studies and Comparative Media Studies/Writing
Thursday, December 8 @ 5:00 pm
Location: MIT Building 3, Room 133 [Map]

Women of color have a variety of responses when employing digital technologies for empowerment. New communication technologies have expanded the opportunities and potential for marginalized communities to mobilize in this context counter to the dominant, mainstream media. This growth reflects the mobilization of marginalized communities within virtual and real spaces reflecting a systematic change in who controls the narrative. No longer are mainstream media the only disseminators of messages or producers of content. Women, in particular, are employing social media to highlight issues that are often ignored in dominant discourse. However, access itself neither ensures power nor guarantees a shift in the dominant ideology (as the use of #Misogynoir by Katy Perry reveals among other examples). Operating under the oppressive structures of masculinity, heterosexuality, and Whiteness that are sustained in digital spaces, marginalized women persevere and resist such hegemonic realities. Yet the conceptual frameworks intended to capture the digital lives of women cannot deconstruct the structural inequalities of these spaces.

Kishonna L. Gray (Ph.D., Arizona State University) is currently a MLK Visiting Scholar in Women & Gender Studies and Comparative Media Studies/Writing. She is also the Founder of the Critical Gaming Lab at Eastern Kentucky University. She is expanding on the work created here to develop new initiatives surrounding Equity in Gaming ( Her work broadly intersects identity and new media although she has a particular focus on gaming. Her most recent book, Race, Gender, & Deviance in Xbox Live (Routledge, 2014), provides a much-needed theoretical framework for examining deviant behavior and deviant bodies within that virtual gaming community.


Starr Forum: Innovation and Its Enemies
A Book Talk by Calestous Juma
2014-2015 MLK Visiting Professor in the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP)
Professor of the Practice of International Development
Director, Science, Technology, Globalization
Belfer Center for Science and International AffairsWHEN: Thursday, November 17, 2016 | 5-6:30pm CANCELLED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE

WHERE: 33 Massachusetts Avenue (MIT 3-270, Maclaurin Building)
Cambridge, MA

Free & open to the public | Refreshments served | Books sold at the event
Can’t attend in person? Watch it on Facebook live or on-demand on YouTube.
For more information or accessibility accommodations please contact

Innovation and Its Enemies: Why People Resist New Technologies (Oxford University Press, 2016) by Calestous Juma shows that many debates over new technologies are framed in the context of risks to moral values, human health, and environmental safety. But it argues that behind these legitimate concerns often lie deeper, but unacknowledged, socioeconomic considerations.

The book explains the roots of resistance to new technologies and why such resistance is not always futile. Juma draws from nearly 600 years of economic history to show how the balance of winners and losers shapes technological controversies. He outlines policy strategies for inclusive innovation to reduce the risks and maximize the benefits of new technologies.

Using detailed case studies of coffee, the printing press, margarine, farm mechanization, electricity, mechanical refrigeration, recorded music, transgenic crops, and transgenic animals, Juma shows how new technologies emerge, take root, and create new institutional ecologies that favor their establishment in the marketplace. He uses these lessons from history to contextualize contemporary debates surrounding technologies such as artificial intelligence, online learning, 3D printing, gene editing, robotics, drones, and renewable energy.

Innovation and Its Enemies ultimately makes the case for shifting greater responsibility to public leaders to work with scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs to manage technological change, make associated institutional adjustments, and expand public engagement on scientific and technological matters.

“[An] outstanding treatise on how new technologies are created and why they are so often not initially accepted by society,” says Robert Langer, David H. Koch Institute Professor at MIT. “I loved reading it.”

The MIT Center for International Studies (CIS) Starr Forum is a public event series sponsored by the Starr Foundation of New York. It brings to the MIT campus leading academics, policymakers and journalists to discuss pressing issues in the world of international relations and U.S. foreign policy. CIS Starr Forums are open to the general public as well as to the MIT community.

To contact the CIS Starr Forum, please e-mail

Innovation and Its Enemies can be ordered at with promo code ASFLYQ6 to save (see flyer).

Table of Contents:



1. Gales of Creative Destruction
2. Brewing Trouble: Coffee
3. Stop the Presses: Printing the Koran
4. Smear Campaigns: Margarine
5. Gaining Traction: Farm Mechanization
6. Charged Arguments: Electricity
7. Cool Reception: Mechanical Refrigeration
8. Facing the Music: Recorded Sound
9. Taking Root: Transgenic Crops
10. Swimming against the Current: AquAdvantage Salmon
11. Oiling the Wheels of Novelty




More than 600 attend event emphasizing commitment to “stand together against injustice, intolerance, and hatred.”

Peter Dizikes | MIT News Office
July 14, 2016

More than 600 members of the MIT community met on Wednesday in the Institute’s latest public discussion of diversity, tolerance, and inclusion — matters made all the more salient by the series of high-profile gun killings in the U.S. this month.

The event featured public remarks by a few MIT speakers, while devoting most of its time to private discussions among audience members. Randomly assigned to tables of 10, the participants engaged in extended conversations about values, sources of intolerance, and ways to help MIT sustain an inclusive community during a time of social tension.

The U.S. has been roiled most recently by two incidents in which black men were killed by police officers this month, followed by the killing of five police officers who were serving at a demonstration in Dallas.

“I urge us not to give in to the darkness, the darkness of doubt and fear,” said DiOnetta Jones Crayton, associate dean for undergraduate education and director of the Office of Minority Education.




Letter from President Reif regarding recent violent tragedies in the United States

MIT News Office
July 10, 2016

The following email was sent to the MIT community by President L. Rafael Reif.

To the members of the MIT community,

Summer scatters us. As our country again suffers incomprehensible tragedy and violence — in Minnesota, Louisiana, Texas and more — I would like to draw us together, across oceans, borders and time zones, so we can mourn together and reflect on how we can respond.

What are we to do?

But I know I am not alone in believing that caring for each other is a fraction of what the moment requires. The terrible images on the news overwhelm us all with pain, fear, outrage and perhaps worst of all, a sense of helplessness. That these events are unfolding in such an overheated political season only magnifies the concern.



Come for dinner and to enjoy the visual art and performances of MIT and Wellesley students.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016
6:30-8:30 pm
Walker Memorial Morss Hall


Win cash prizes up to $250.00 each!

Are you inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr or other civil rights leaders such as Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Cesar Chavez, Fannie Lou Hamer and Harvey Milk?

Express yourself by entering

  • visual art (painting, photography, sculpture, video)
  • performance art (music, song, spoken word, dance, theater)
  • literary work (poetry, short story, speech, play)

Win cash prizes up to $250.00 each!

The contest is open to all MIT Undergraduates, Graduate Students, and Wellesley students cross registered at MIT this semester.

Your entry should be related to or inspired by any of the ideals of Dr. King and/or other civil rights leaders in the past or current human rights activists in the US and the World. These ideals include freedom, justice, peace, equality, civil rights, human rights and/or social justice.

Here is your chance to show off your creativity and artistic skills to the MIT community, have fun and win money!

If you’d like to participate, fill out the entry form by Friday, May 6 @ 11:59 PM.

Please send long literary entries (short stories, plays, speeches) to Tobie Weiner ( prior to the contest.

Ta-Nehisi Coates delivered the keynote address at the University’s 149th Charter Day Convocation in Cramton Auditorium on Friday, March 4, 2016.

“There is no geographic quadrant, no place on the globe, nowhere in this world, that I’ve felt is more beautiful than Howard University,” Coates said.

In his remarks, Coates expressed deep appreciation to his predecessors, and encouraged today’s students to revel in the beauty and the empowering aspects of campus life.

“I knew that when I was here that I was not just experiencing a present beauty of an institution. I was experiencing the beauty of a heritage, going way, way back,” Coates said. “That put a pressure on me, a kind of responsibility. Beauty is not free.”

Coates majored in history and studied at Howard from 1993 to 1999. A national correspondent for The Atlantic, Coates published a memoir, The Beautiful Struggle, in 2008, and his New York Timesbest seller, Between the World and Me, in 2015. Coates is the recipient of the National Magazine Award and the Hillman Prize for Opinion and Analysis Journalism. He received the George Polk Award for his Atlantic cover story, “The Case for Reparations.” In addition, Coates was presented the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation MacArthur Fellowship in 2015. Coates also received the highly acclaimed 2015 National Book Award for Between the World and Me.

This year’s Charter Day celebration marks the 149th anniversary of the charter enacted by the United States Congress and approved by President Andrew Johnson on March 2, 1867, that established Howard University.


WED FEB 10 2016: 42nd Annual MLK Celebration

MIT’s 42nd Annual Celebration of the Life and Legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
“Truth & Power: Students Leading for Change”

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Silent March preceding Celebration Event
10am at MIT’s Lobby 7
77 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02139

Celebration Program followed by Luncheon
Keynote Speaker: Freeman A. Hrabowski III
University of Maryland, Baltimore County President
Morss Hall, Walker Memorial
142 Memorial Drive
Cambridge, MA 02139

Seating is limited; RSVP at here or visit