From Truthdig, 9 June 2017: 

Although headlines about Russia and James Comey have dominated mainstream media for most of Trump’s presidency thus far, damage to democracy has been going on behind the scenes. Advocates of net neutrality are watching in horror as Ajit Pai, head of the Federal Communications Commission, works to destroy net neutrality and other consumer protection regulations.

“Most Americans are not able to get the information that they need to keep themselves safe.” So says Mark Lloyd [MLK Visiting Scholar 2002-04], the associate general counsel and chief diversity officer at the Federal Communications Commission in 2009-2012. Lloyd, also an author, a professor of communications at USC’s Annenberg School and an Emmy Award-winning journalist, sat down with Truthdig Editor in Chief Robert Scheer on his KCRW podcast “Scheer Intelligence” for a conversation on media consolidation and consumer protection.

Lloyd has written for Truthdig about media consolidation and the communications crisis happening in America, and he expands on these ideas in his discussion with Scheer.

 

 

This communications crisis started “before Trump,” Lloyd says. He explains how a lack of effective telecommunications affects health, finances and other crucial factors of Americans’ lives.

“In the U.S., our priorities are to make sure that people are making money in communications,” Lloyd continues, “and not making sure that people are safe with the communications services that they use.”

“So we’re not even talking about whether they’re being informed about trade with China or the war in Syria,” Scheer notes. “We’re talking about, actually, what they need for their well-being.”

The two go on to discuss the FCC, where Lloyd once worked as a lawyer. Lloyd explained that, while at the FCC, he tried to make communications services more accessible to all—but then the 2016 election happened.

He goes on to break down the current battle over net neutrality:

The challenge is that organizations like Google, like Netflix, like Facebook—they don’t really provide you with internet service. What they provide you with is the entertainment, with the application that you need to search the internet, with your ability to connect with your friends and things like that because you’re connected to an application. Internet service providers—Comcast, AT&T, Verizon—those folks actually provide you with internet service. That’s where the rubber meets the road. So Google, Facebook, these other companies, they don’t want to have to pay any more than they have to to have access to you.

Lloyd also explains the constitutional origins of U.S. communications and delves into media consolidation in the U.S.

“There’s nothing radically new here,” Lloyd says of the Trump administration’s stance on net neutrality and consumer protections. “The big challenge is that we have an FCC that is not really even looking at the impact of media consolidation, on what it means to local communities.”

Read the full transcript for the interview here.

 

 

Former MLK Visiting Professors Christopher Rose and Sylvester James Gates, Jr. are part of Brown University’s diversity and inclusion action plan, which is committed to doubling the number of faculty from historically underrepresented groups, two initiatives are already attracting both early-career and experienced scholars to Brown.


From “New programs seek to diversify faculty at Brown and beyond,” News from Brown, 19 May 2017

PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Just over a year ago, Brown University launched into the work of activating an ambitious, far-reaching plan to create a more diverse and inclusive academic community. Among the plan’s chief priorities was a multifaceted effort to double the number of faculty members from historically underrepresented groups by 2022.

Two initiatives related to that effort — the Presidential Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship Program and the Provost’s Visiting Professors Program — are in full swing, each representing a distinct element in a broader strategy to boost faculty diversity. The first aims to widen the pipeline of young scholars from diverse backgrounds who will compete for tenure-track positions at Brown and elsewhere in the future. The other focuses more immediately on the present by attracting distinguished senior scholars from historically underrepresented groups to Brown for temporary appointments.

And both are already producing results.

“Diversity is a cornerstone of academic excellence,” Brown President Christina Paxson said. “Through a set of distinctive and purposeful programs, we are seeing success at increasing faculty diversity at all levels — from the most recent recipients of Ph.D.s to academics who are at the peak of their careers as educators and scholars.”

Liza Cariaga-Lo, the University’s vice president for academic development, diversity and inclusion, said that cultivating a more diverse faculty is essential to the creation of an academic community that embodies the social and intellectual diversity of the world and offers students and scholars the highest level of academic excellence.

“These programs are already helping us to meet the goals set out in our diversity and action plan by addressing faculty hiring at multiple points in the academic career pipeline,” she said.

Developing young scholars

In 2015 — a semester before the debut of the full Pathways to Diversity and Inclusionaction plan — Brown launched the Presidential Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship Program to support the development of early career scholars who add intellectual diversity to the campus.

From the start of the first cohort of six fellows, Cariaga-Lo said, the program’s specific emphasis has been recruiting scholars from historically underrepresented groups who might eventually compete for tenure-track faculty positions at the University. During their time at Brown, each fellow spends two semesters teaching a course of their own design and another two semesters wholly devoted to their research. With each new cohort, the University will bring in up to six new scholars, she noted.

Attracting accomplished researchers

While the Presidential Diversity Postdoctoral Fellowship Program offers opportunities for emerging scholars, the Provost’s Visiting Professors Program is designed to bring to Brown those who are already highly accomplished. All come from historically underrepresented groups for periods ranging from six to 24 months.

For the current 2016-17 academic year, Brown welcomed the first cohort of visitors: renowned physicists Sylvester James Gates Jr. and John A. Johnson, and accomplished epidemiologist Ronald Aubert.

The aim is to broaden the excellence of Brown faculty while helping to build a critical mass of diverse voices in the University’s academic community, said Provost Richard M. Locke.

“We were very pleased to draw such exceptional scholars to Brown as part of this program,” Locke said. “I know our students and faculty benefited greatly from their interactions with the first cohort of visitors, and we hope to see that continue as the program moves forward.”

Gates, a theoretical physicist at the University of Maryland, is a recipient of the National Medal of Science and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He also served a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology during the Obama administration.

He says several factors made him want to be a part of the visiting professors program at Brown.

“Brown has long had a reputation for its flexibility in educating undergraduates and for having fantastic students, and I wanted to be involved with that,” he said. “But the other thing is that Brown is making some historic efforts at being more inclusive, and that also is something that fascinated me.”

Gates says when he thinks about the value of programs like this, he’s reminded of something a female colleague once said to him.

“She said it really matters when a young woman sees someone who looks like her at the blackboard,” Gates recalled. “It provides real encouragement for people from groups who have been traditionally locked out of some of these positions.”

Chris Rose, a professor of engineering and associate dean of the faculty for special initiatives, helps oversee the program. He said it has been gratifying to see the first cohort engaging with students and fellow faculty members throughout campus.

“We’re not the first university to have this type of program, but we wanted to structure ours differently,” Rose said. “From the beginning, we aimed for a program that was outward-facing, where visitors weren’t cloistered within a single academic department, but instead were making connections across campus. To do that, we need to bring people to campus who not only have great depth in their interests, but great breadth as well.”

Aubert, chief science officer for a health care consulting firm and an adjunct associate professor at the University of North Carolina, has a dual visiting appointment in the Brown University School of Public Health and with the University’s Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America (CSREA). So in addition to teaching and mentoring students in public health, he also gave informal talks with students and faculty at CSREA on issues of race and ethnicity as they relate to the prevalence of Type 2 diabetes in the U.S. He’ll continue his work over he summer, developing campus-wide programming on issues of public health and race.

Gates co-taught a physics class, gave a colloquium on science-based public policy at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs and served as co-director of Brown’s Presidential Scholars Program, which provides research opportunities and support for low-and-middle-income undergraduates.

Amid all that, Gates still had time to continue his research, which he said benefitted from the collaborative ethos he found at Brown.

“What I’m working on is a strange combination of physics, mathematics, computer science and even a bit of evolutionary biology,” Gates said. “There’s a real spirit of interdisciplinarity here that enabled my work.”

Rose says he looks forward to the program’s continued success, along with the suite of related programs aimed at creating a more diverse academic community at Brown.

“There’s a constant drumbeat of these kinds of programs at Brown growing out of the Diversity and Inclusion Action Plan, along with the institutional will to see them through,” Rose said. “In terms of making meaningful progress in diversity and inclusion, I think Brown is the place to watch.”

[Editor’s Note: In late May 2017, shortly after publication of this story, Sylvester James Gates Jr. agreed to become a permanent member of Brown’s faculty.]

 

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 From MIT Technology Review March/April 2017 issue:

Research physicist Sekazi Mtingwa, the first African-American to win the American Physical Society’s Robert R. Wilson Prize for Achievement in the Physics of Particle Accelerators, has a history of helping others overcome obstacles in science.

Mtingwa, who was born in Georgia as Michael Von Sawyer, says his elementary school classmates joked that “I would be like the German scientists in the white lab coats that we saw in our schoolbooks who were named ‘Von this’ or ‘Von that,’” he says.

Growing up as the son of a Lockheed assembly line worker and a licensed practical nurse, Mtingwa attended segregated schools until the 10th grade. That same year, the Georgia State Science Fair was integrated—and his project won first place in biology. Among his prizes were books on science, mathematics, and engineering. “Three of them were introductions to Einstein’s theory of special relativity, which were so captivating that I decided that physics was the thing for me,” he recalls.

Mtingwa earned bachelor’s degrees in both physics and math from MIT and master’s and PhD degrees in theoretical high-energy physics from Princeton. As a grad student, he changed his name to a phrase in Bondei, a Tanzanian language: Sekazi (male hard worker) Kauze (inquisitive) Mtingwa (literally “breastbone,” but the word refers to someone who can overcome many problems).

He held a research post at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, where he and a colleague developed a theory of particle beam dynamics, “intrabeam scattering,” that standardized the performance limitations on a wide class of modern accelerators. He also worked at the Argonne National Laboratory and held faculty positions at North Carolina A&T State University and Morgan State University before serving at MIT as the Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professor of Physics from 2001 to 2003. In 2006, he returned to MIT as lead physics lecturer in the Concourse Program and faculty director of academic programs in the Office of Minority Education.

“The most important thing I learned at MIT was the value of mentoring, both as mentee and mentor,” says Mtingwa, who helped found Project Interphase (now Interphase EDGE), a summer program that prepares incoming MIT students.

He also helped establish the National Society of Black Physicists, the African Physical Society, and the African Laser Centre, which is based in South Africa. In 2011, he and his wife, W. Estella Johnson, who have two daughters, cofounded Triangle Science, Education & Economic Development, a consulting company in North Carolina that supports underrepresented minorities in STEM fields.

By Alice Waugh

 

 

Because nurses are at the forefront of patient interactions, it seems only fitting that nurse scientists lead the charge in genomic research that can be translated from the bench to bedside and be the agent for change in health policy related to genomic screening recommendations worldwide. –Jacquelyn Taylor

Jacquelyn Taylor and her colleagues have published “Genome Sequencing Technologies and Nursing: What are the Roles of Nurses and Nurse Scientists? in Nursing Research, the top research journal for nurse scientists.

From feature in the Yale School of Nursing webpage (6 March 2017):

Yale School of Nursing’s Jacquelyn Taylor PhD, PNP-BC, RN, FAHA, FAAN serves as the guest editor for the March issue of Nursing Research’s special issue on Omics. It is in that capacity that Taylor, herself an award-winning genomics researcher, offered the above thesis in a commentary about the future of genomics and precision health and, specifically, the important role that nurse scientist and nurse clinicians have in the rapidly evolving healthcare environment.

According to Taylor, who penned the commentary along with colleagues from Emory University, Columbia University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology, genomic sequencing is quickly becoming a routine standard of care.

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From “Ta-Nehisi Coates on Creating Black Superheroes,” The New York Times (2 March 2017):

When Marvel Comics announced in September 2015 that Ta-Nehisi Coates would be writing a new Black Panther series, the timing could not have been more fortuitous. That same month, Mr. Coates, who writes regularly for The Atlantic, was awarded a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation “genius grant,” and, two months later, a National Book Award for nonfiction for Between the World and Me, his passionate letter to his son about being black in America.

The momentum for the hero was also tremendous. Issue No. 1 of Black Panther hit stores last April and went on to sell more than 300,000 copies, according to Marvel. He then made his big screen debut in May, with “Captain America: Civil War,” and was played by Chadwick Boseman, who will reprise the role in a solo film next year. In July came Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet, a collected edition of the first four issues of the comic. It was followed, in November, by World of Wakanda, a companion series in which Mr. Coates introduced two more newcomers to the roster of comic-book scribes: the feminist writer Roxane Gay and the poet Yona Harvey. This April comes a new series, Black Panther and the Crew, a team comprising only black heroes, written by Mr. Coates and Ms. Harvey.

Mr. Coates answered questions about the success of Black Panther, his approach to writing, the members of the Crew and what’s next.

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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.”

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Jacquelyn Taylor is among the 102 scientists and researchers to receive a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE), the highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.

“I congratulate these outstanding scientists and engineers on their impactful work,” said President Obama. “These innovators are working to help keep the United States on the cutting edge, showing that Federal investments in science lead to advancements that expand our knowledge of the world around us and contribute to our economy.”

The PECASE Awards highlight the key role that the Administration places in encouraging and accelerating American innovation to grow our economy and tackle our greatest challenges.

Taylor was nominated by the Department of Health and Human Services as one of the most meritorious scientists and engineers whose early accomplishments show the greatest promise for assuring America’s preeminence in science and engineering and contributing to the Department’s mission.

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Taylor will deliver a MIT MLK Luncheon Seminar talk on Tuesday, January 10, 11:45am-1pm in MIT Room W20-307 (Mezzanine Lounge, Student Center)

Hypertension Genomics and Nursing Science: A Tale of 3 Studies, and counting
The talk will describe three different studies that Taylor has conducted in hypertension genetics in black families and will illustrate how she has built on this science to the work she is doing today, particularly in Flint, MI.

 

 

Julius L. Chambers (1936–2013) delivered the keynote for the 1996 22nd Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, themed “With Liberty and Justice for All”. At the time, Chambers was Chancellor of North Carolina Central University and Former Director of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.

In Julius Chambers: A Life in the Legal Struggle for Civil Rights (The University of North Carolina Press), Richard A. Rosen and Joseph Mosnier connect the details of Chambers’s life to the wider struggle to secure racial equality through the development of modern civil rights law. Tracing his path from a dilapidated black elementary school to counsel’s lectern at the Supreme Court and beyond, they reveal Chambers’s singular influence on the evolution of federal civil rights law after 1964.

Born in the hamlet of Mount Gilead, North Carolina, Chambers escaped the fetters of the Jim Crow South to emerge in the 1960s and 1970s as the nation’s leading African American civil rights attorney. Following passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Chambers worked to advance the NAACP Legal Defense Fund’s strategic litigation campaign for civil rights, ultimately winning landmark school and employment desegregation cases at the U.S. Supreme Court. Undaunted by the dynamiting of his home and the arson that destroyed the offices of his small integrated law practice, Chambers pushed federal civil rights law to its highwater mark.

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julius-chambers-book

 

 

During his time as a 2015-16 MLK Visiting Associate Professor, Baratunde Cola recruited, advised and supported Ali Sina Booeshaghi, an undergraduate MIT student whose work has received a 2016 SACNAS Student Presentation Award.

The Society for Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) is a society of scientists dedicated to fostering the success of Chicano/Hispanic and Native American scientists—from college students to professionals—to attain advanced degrees, careers, and positions of leadership in science. This year, the National Conference gathered over 4000 students and professionals in Long Beach, CA. Taking place over three days, the conference showcased both undergraduate and graduate student presentations, offered scientific symposia, keynote addresses, professional development sessions, and a grand exhibit hall in which students interacted with over 300 exhibitors representing colleges and universities across the nation.

In addition to these activities, the conference was also an opportunity for students to present their research in a professional setting. This year, over 1000 posters and oral presentations were delivered at the conference. Each year SACNAS receives comments from attendees highly impressed by the caliber of student research. The undergraduate and graduate students consistently present research that surpasses expectations in their respective categories.

Booeshagi represented the MIT Mechanical Engineering Department at this year’s conference with work titled “Harvesting Electric Energy from Waste Heat: A Novel Approach Utilizing a Thermo-Electric Liquid Cold Plate”. The conference judges recognized it as a standout among the student presentations and selected Booeshagi to receive one of the 2016 SACNAS Student Presentation Awards.

In a letter to MIT’s Mechanical Engineering Department, the SACNAS Student Presentations Committee wrote: “It is our honor to share that Ali Sina Booeshaghi’s communication skills and command of the research topic were exemplary…We feel that your program is enhanced by the participation of Ali Sina Booeshaghi, as such commitment will drive fellow researchers to similar heights. Congratulations on hosting such a talent.”

Such a talent was nurtured by a forensic engineer/mechanical engineer father, with whom Booeshaghi interned during summers, helping to investigate accidents. Though Booeshaghi has an interest in a law career, he chose to study mechanical engineering as an undergraduate. “It isn’t just learning about the mechanics of movement,” he said before entering MIT. “It’s about learning the mindset of an engineer and how to think. … It teaches you to apply fundamentals and solve any problem you’re faced with.”

Booeshaghi also had the opportunity to work with Prof. Cola of Georgia Institute of Technology, who served as visiting faculty at the MIT Mechanical Engineering Department. “Sina was a pleasure to work with and really helped me to make the most of my time as an MLK Scholar,” says Prof. Cola. “I started my time at MIT with this simple idea to combine cooling chips and generating electricity with a new application of liquid thermoelectrics…Sina’s hard work and sharp mind brought the idea to life in record time. He is a very insightful student whose career I look forward to following.”
Gwen Ifill, a groundbreaking journalist who covered the White House, Congress, and national campaigns during three decades for The Washington Post, The New York Times, NBC, and, most prominently, PBS, died on Monday, November 14 at a hospice in Washington. She was 61. The cause was complications of uterine cancer, her brother Roberto said.

Journalist Gwen Ifill, who delivered the keynote speech at the annual Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast on Feb. 3, shares conversation with Ayanna Samuels, a graduate student in aerospace engineering and the Technology and Policy Program.  Photo: Donna Coveney/Tech Talk, 2005

Journalist Gwen Ifill at the annual MLK breakfast on Feb. 3, 2005, sharing conversation with Ayanna Samuels, an MIT graduate student in aerospace engineering and the Technology and Policy Program. Photo: Donna Coveney/Tech Talk, 2005

An Institute alum remembers Ifill as “a good friend to many of us at MIT in the 70’s while she was at Simmons College”. In 2005, she was the keynote for MIT’s 31st Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. The celebration’s theme of “Justice and Equality for All: America’s Moral Dilemma” continues to resonate over a decade later in the volatile climate after recent national elections.

In a distinguished career, Ms. Ifill was in the forefront of a journalism vanguard as a black woman in a field dominated by white men. She achieved her highest visibility most recently, as the moderator and managing editor of the public-affairs program “Washington Week” on PBS and the co-anchor and co-managing editor, with Judy Woodruff, of “PBS NewsHour,” competing with the major broadcast and cable networks for the nightly news viewership.

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