Posts Tagged ‘scientist’

Mae C. Jemison, Astronaut (1956)

October 24, 2011 4 comments

Mae C. Jemison, Astronaut, Professor and  Entrepreneur (October 17, 1956- ), was the first African-American woman admitted into NASA’s astronaut training program.

On September 12, 1992, following one year of training, Dr. Jemison became the first African-American woman in space onboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on Mission STS-47. Read more…


David Blackwell, Mathematician, Author and Game Theorist (1919)

July 30, 2011 Leave a comment

David Harold Blackwell (April 24, 1919–July 8, 2010), a mathematician, author and game theorist, entered the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at age 16 and was awarded a Ph.D. in Mathematics at age 22.

Also of note:

  • Calyampudi Radhakrishna Rao and David Blackwell formulated what has come to be known as the Rao–Blackwell Theorem in Statistics
  • in 1965, he was the first African-American inducted into the National Academy of Sciences, an honor society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research for the furtherance of science and technology for humanity
  • he was the first black tenured faculty member at University of California, Berkeley
  • he authored the textbook Basic Statistics, which was published in 1969
  • he was awarded the John von Neumann Theory Prize in 1979
  • in 2002, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, California, and Cornell University established the Blackwell-Tapia Award in honor of David Blackwell and Richard A. Tapia, distinguished mathematical scientists who have been inspirations to more than a generation of African-American and Hispanic-American students and professionals in the mathematical sciences1
  • Lastly, the following quote has been attributed to David Blackwell:

I’ve worked in so many areas—I’m sort of a dilettante. Basically, I’m not interested in doing research and I never have been. I’m interested in understanding, which is quite a different thing. And often to understand something you have to work it out yourself because no one else has done it.2

External Links:

  1. David Blackwell (Bellevue College)
  2. Arlie Petters receives first Blackwell-Tapia Prize

Quoted References:

  1. Who Are The Greatest Black Mathematicians?
  2. David Blackwell @ Wikipedia

Further References:

  1. Rao-Blackwell Theorem @ Scholarpedia
  2. National Academy of Sciences:  About the NAS

Valerie L. Thomas, Inventor (1943)

June 29, 2011 Leave a comment

The honor of being this blog’s first featured personality goes to Valerie L. Thomas.

Two of Valerie L. Thomas’s notable contributions among many are:

  • In 1980, she received a patent for her "illusion transmitter," which uses a concave mirror on the transmitting end as well as on the receiving end to produce optical illusion images. NASA uses the technology today, and scientists are currently working on ways to incorporate it into tools for surgeons to look inside the human body, and possibly for television sets and video screens one day.1

  • Project manager for the development of NASA’s image-processing system on Landsat, the first satellite to send images from outer space.2

External Links:

  1. Valerie L. Thomas Retires

  2. Inventor of the Week: Archive (

  3. Valerie Thomas – Valerie Thomas and the Illusion Transmitter


  1. Inventor of the Week: Archive (

  2. Valerie Thomas – Valerie Thomas and the Illusion Transmitter