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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Preschool Activities

Mostly common projects are about preschool crafts.

Nomination deadline EXTENDED: 11:59 pm on Monday, December 5, 2016  FRIDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2016

The MLK Jr. Leadership Awards are given annually to students, alumni, staff, groups, and faculty who embody the spirit of Dr. King’s work. “Service to the community” is defined in the broadest sense and includes academic, research, religious, and secular contributions in which integrity, leadership, creativity, and positive outcome are apparent.

Recipients will receive their awards at the MIT MLK Celebration Awards Dinner on February 15 and acknowledged at the MLK Celebration Luncheon on February 16. See the list of previous MLK Leadership Award Recipients.

If you wish to nominate a person or organization, please apply at the Institute Equity & Community Office website by 11:59 pm on Monday, December 5, 2016.

Questions or comments? Contact Tobie Weiner (email or phone x3-3649) or Acia Adams-Heath (email or phone 3-2792).


MLK Celebration Planning Committee (MLK CPC):
  • Acia Adams-Heath, Senior Staff Accountant, Sponsored Accounting
  • Edmund Bertschinger, Institute Community and Equity Officer
  • Raul F. Boquin, ’17 Mathematics major
  • La-Tarri Canty, Director, Multicultural Programs, Student Activities Office
  • Sharon Clarke, Senior HR consultant, Information Systems & Technology
  • Jerome Friedman, Institute Professor Emeritus
  • Tiera Guinn, ’17 Aeronautics and Astronautics
  • Sally Haslanger, Professor, Linguistics and Philosophy
  • Alyce Johnson, Manage of Staff Diversity and Inclusion, Human Resources Department
  • William Kindred, MLK CPC Staff Co-chair, Administrative staff, Lincoln Lab
  • Heather Konar, Communications Officer, Office of the Dean for Graduate Education
  • Deborah Liverman, Director, Career Services, MIT Global Education and Career Development
  • Paul Parravano, Co-director, Office of Government and Community Relations, Office of EVPT
  • Zina Queen,  MLK CPC Staff Co-Chair, Administrative Assistant II,  Political Science
  • Mareena R. Snowden, G Nuclear Science and Engineering
  • Tobie Weiner, Undergraduate Administrator, Political Science

MIT-Reif-logo
To the members of the MIT community,
It is hard to think of a moment when our nation more urgently needed the example of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Even at the distance of decades, we can take inspiration from his character and his conduct – his dignity, integrity, selflessness and moral vision, and his relentless focus on what really matters, in the quest for a more just, peaceful and unified society.
So I write now with two purposes.
Please nominate the leaders who lift us up!
First, I ask that we pause, here in our own time and place, to contemplate the example of those members of our community who, in the spirit of Dr. King, lift us up and bring us together.  I urge you to nominate those whose inspiration you find meaningful – students, faculty, staff or alumni, pursuing their work as individuals or as groups – to receive the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award.
Please submit your nomination by December 5 here.  You can find more details at the foot of this letter. We will honor the winners as part of our annual MLK program, to be held on February 16, 2017.
Joining forces, making progress

Second, I write to remind us all that – building on decades of previous progress – many people across MIT are engaged in an intense, ongoing effort to help our own community grow more just, peaceful and unified.
No one has given more thought or heart to this work than the outstanding student leaders who have led our campus dialogue over the last year, and the devoted staff who work every day to help all our students feel at home at MIT. Dedicated alumni groups like Black Alumni of MIT (BAMIT) are also playing a crucial role, along with Academic Council’s Working Group on Community and Inclusion and ICEO Ed Bertschinger.
This summer, I asked Vice President Kirk Kolenbrander to join forces with all those engaged in this work to focus us on concrete ways we can make our community stronger, define how we at MIT might start to help society address issues around bias and violence, and begin to implement a plan of action.
This month – both at the November 16 faculty meeting, and through a letter in The Tech – Kirk will offer an update on their shared progress and outline their further aspirations.
I hope you will join me in thanking all those involved for their leadership in this difficult and deeply important work.
Sincerely,
L. Rafael Reif