Showing posts with label Katherine Johnson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Katherine Johnson. Show all posts

Thursday, September 03, 2020

Katherine Johnson scholarship aids African American students

A new scholarship created as a tribute to NASA pioneer Katherine Johnson will benefit African American students studying math or science within West Virginia University’s Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.

Inspired by the movie “Hidden Figures,” alumna Deborah Miller established the endowed Katherine Johnson Math Scholarship to honor the late mathematician, who died Feb. 24.

The scholarship will be awarded to undergraduate students within the Eberly College, with first preference given to African American students in the Department of Mathematics. If no math students qualify, students pursuing degrees in physics, astronomy and statistics will be considered.

Miller’s $50,000 gift supports efforts by the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to boost scholarship aid for students from underrepresented groups as part of the WVU Foundation’s “We Are Stronger Together” fundraising initiative.

Miller said she wanted to show her gratitude for Johnson’s groundbreaking work and encourage students with a similar gift for numbers.

“Katherine is my hero,” Miller said. “I’m so glad there was such a woman who could inspire us.”


Monday, February 24, 2020

"Hidden Figure' Katherine Johnson dead at 101

Katherine Johnson, a mathematician who calculated rocket trajectories and earth orbits for NASA’s early space missions and was later portrayed in the 2016 hit film “Hidden Figures,” about pioneering black female aerospace workers, has died. She was 101.

Johnson died Monday of natural causes at a retirement community in Newport News, Virginia, family attorney Donyale Y. H. Reavis told The Associated Press.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine released the folowing statement:

“NASA is deeply saddened by the loss of a leader from our pioneering days, and we send our deepest condolences to the family of Katherine Johnson. Ms. Johnson helped our nation enlarge the frontiers of space even as she made huge strides that also opened doors for women and people of color in the universal human quest to explore space. Her dedication and skill as a mathematician helped put humans on the moon and before that made it possible for our astronauts to take the first steps in space that we now follow on a journey to Mars. Her Presidential Medal of Freedom was a well-deserved recognition.

“At NASA we will never forget her courage and leadership and the milestones we could not have reached without her. We will continue building on her legacy and work tirelessly to increase opportunities for everyone who has something to contribute toward the ongoing work of raising the bar of human potential.”

Friday, June 14, 2019

Street outside NASA's DC office renamed for 'Hidden Figures'

Visitors to NASA’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. will forevermore be reminded of the African-American women who were essential to the success of early spaceflight.

On Aug. 23, 2018, U.S. Senators Ted Cruz, Ed Markey, John Thune, and Bill Nelson introduced a bipartisan bill to designate the street in front of NASA Headquarters as Hidden Figures Way. On Wednesday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was joined by Sen. Cruz, D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, and author Margot Lee Shetterly to make that designation official.

The renaming honors Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, who were featured in Shetterly’s book – and the subsequent movie – Hidden Figures, as well as all women who honorably serve their country, advancing equality, and contributing to the United States space program.

“I just want to say these were the three hidden figures in a very prominent book that became a magnificent movie that started a movement that brought all of us here today,” Bridenstine said. “Here we are, 50 years after the landing of the Apollo 11 Moon lander, celebrating those figures who were, at the time, not celebrated.”

Members of the Johnson, Jackson and Vaughan families, as well as Christine Darden, a mathematician who worked alongside these esteemed women at NASA, were surrounded by a large crowd gathered at the corner of 3rd and E Street SW to share in the momentous event.

“A street sign is a piece of metal, that’s under the wind, sun, rain, snow. But a street sign’s a lot more than that,” Cruz said. “Because for years, and then decades, and then centuries, when little girls and little boys come to see NASA, they’re going to look up and see that sign, and they’re going to say ‘Hidden Figures? What’s that? What does that mean?’ And that, in turn, is going to prompt a story – a story about the unlimited human potential of all of us.”

Mendelson, who introduced the renaming bill for the city council in September 2018, also noted the integral role NASA’s human computers of the Apollo era played in developing America’s space program, and the important lessons we take from history, particularly lessons on race in this country.

“It’s not just a story of individuals but it’s also a story of, and acknowledges, the racism in this country and how we still struggle to deal with that and to overcome it,” he said.

The story that sparked the movement Bridenstine spoke of was shared with the world by an author who has her own close ties to NASA. Shetterly’s father, whose birthday also was Wednesday, spent his entire career at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, as an atmospheric research scientist.

“Naming this street Hidden Figures Way serves to remind us, and everyone who comes here, of the standard that was set by these women, with their commitment to science and their embodiment of the values of equality, justice and humanity,” Shetterly said. “But, let it also remind us of the Hidden Figures way, which is to open our eyes to contribution of the people around us so that their names, too, are the ones that we remember at the end of the story.”

Friday, February 22, 2019

NASA Renames Facility in Honor of 'Hidden Figure' Katherine Johnson

NASA has redesignated its Independent Verification and Validation (IV&V) Facility in Fairmont, West Virginia, as the Katherine Johnson Independent Verification and Validation Facility, in honor of the West Virginia native and NASA "hidden figure."
"I am thrilled we are honoring Katherine Johnson in this way as she is a true American icon who overcame incredible obstacles and inspired so many," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "It's a fitting tribute to name the facility that carries on her legacy of mission-critical computations in her honor."
President Donald Trump signed into law in December an act of Congress calling for the redesignation. The facility's program contributes to the safety and success of NASA's highest-profile missions by assuring that mission software performs correctly. IV&V now is in the process of planning a rededication ceremony.
"It's an honor the NASA IV&V Program's primary facility now carries Katherine Johnson's name," said NASA IV&V Program Director Gregory Blaney. "It's a way for us to recognize Katherine's career and contributions not just during Black History Month, but every day, every year."
Born in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, in 1918, Johnson's intense curiosity and brilliance with numbers led her to a distinguished career — spanning more than three decades — with NASA and its predecessor agency, the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics. Among her professional accomplishments, Johnson calculated the trajectory for Alan Shepard's Freedom 7 mission in 1961. The following year, Johnson performed the work for which she would become best known when she was asked to verify the results made by electronic computers to calculate the orbit for John Glenn's Friendship 7 mission. She went on to provide calculations for NASA throughout her career, including for several Apollo missions.
At a time when racial segregation was prevalent throughout the southern United States, Johnson and fellow African American mathematicians Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson -- who was later promoted to engineer -- broke through racial barriers to achieve success in their careers at NASA and helped pave the way for the diversity that currently extends across all levels of agency's workforce and leadership. Their story became the basis of the 2017 film "Hidden Figures," based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly.  
Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015 and, in 2017, NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginiadedicated the new Katherine Jonson Computational Research Facility in her honor. Johnson celebrated her 100th birthday on Aug. 26.
Since its inception more than 25 years ago, NASA's IV&V Program has performed work on approximately 100 missions and projects, including: the Space Shuttle ProgramHubble Space TelescopeCassiniMars Science LaboratoryMagnetosphere MultiScaleGlobal Precipitation Measurement and, most recently, the InSight Mars Lander. The IV&V Program currently is providing services to 12 upcoming NASA missions, including the James Webb Space TelescopeOrion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle and the Space Launch System. It also provides general software safety and mission assurance services, including support for NASA's Commercial Crew Program.
For information about the Katherine Johnson IV&V Facility, visit:

Monday, August 06, 2018

Black Female NASA Pioneers Nominated For Congressional Medals

A group of U.S. senators are recognizing the African American women who contributed to the space race in the 1960s.

Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, Chris Croons of Delaware, Kamala Harris of California and 44 of their colleagues introduced a bipartisan bill to award Congressional Gold medals to Katherine Johnson and Dr. Christine Darden and posthumously award Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson whose lives and careers were featured in the book and movie "Hidden Figures".

The Congressional Gold Medal is considered the highest civilian award in the United States and awarded to people who have performed an achievement that has an impact on American history and culture; likely to be recognized in that person's field for years to come.

Senator Harris said these women's accomplishments were a critical role in U.S. history:

“These women were barrier breakers, and their immeasurable contributions to NASA and our nation have cemented their place in history,” said Senator Harris. “For too long, their extraordinary accomplishments remained in the shadows, with the world unaware of the critical role they placed in the Space Race. I’m proud to help recognize their achievements as they continue to serve as a beacon for black women both young and old, across the country.”

Johnson calculated trajectories for multiple NASA space missions including the first human spaceflight by an American, Alan Shepard’s Freedom 7 mission. She also calculated trajectories for John Glenn’s Friendship 7 mission to orbit the earth. During her time at NASA, she became the first woman recognized as an author of a report from the Flight Research Division.

Vaughan led the West Area Computing unit for nine years, as the first African American supervisor at National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), which later became NASA. She later became an expert programmer in FORTRAN as a part of NASA’s Analysis and Computation Division.

Jackson, who petitioned the City of Hampton to allow her to take graduate-level courses in math and physics at night at the all-white Hampton High School in order to become an engineer at NASA. She was the first female African-American engineer at the agency. Later in her career, she worked to improve the prospects of NASA’s female mathematicians, engineers, and scientists as Langley’s Federal Women’s Program Manager.

Dr. Darden became an engineer at NASA 16 years after Jackson. She worked to revolutionize aeronautic design, wrote over 50 articles on aeronautics design and became the first African-American person of any gender to be promoted into the Senior Executive Service at Langley.

The bill would commend these women for their contributions to NASA and their broader impact on society, paving the way for women-- especially of color in STEM fields.

This bill is endorsed by the Girl Scouts of the USA, Girl Scouts of Alaska, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, American Physical Society, Association for Women in Science, National Association for Equal Opportunity, Society of Women Engineers, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, United Negro College Fund, National Center for Women , and Information Technology, Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Hampton Roads Association for the Study of African American Life and History, Association for Women in Math, American Mathematical Society, National Association of Mathematicians, Mathematical Association of America, National Congress of Black Women, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, American Chemical Society, and American Geophysical Union.


Monday, September 11, 2017

NASA set to honor Katherine Johnson with new building

NASA Langley Research Center has named their new Computational Research Facility building after Katherine G. Johnson, who started working for NASA in 1953 as a mathematician who helped launch America into the space race with the Soviet Union. Her story was told in the Hidden Figures where she was portrayed by Taraji Henson.

Katherine Johnson just turned 99 years old, and her life is on a roll.

She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, spoke on stage at the Academy Awards and saw her career developed into a best-selling book and a hit movie adaptation. She will get her own LEGO figure later this year.

Next up: On Sept. 22, NASA Langley Research Center — where she worked for more than three decades as a “human computer” in the early days of the nation’s space program — will formally open a new building named in her honor. The Katherine G. Johnson Computational Research Facility will be a state-of-the-art lab for innovative research and development supporting NASA’s exploration missions.

“It’s a perfect storm in that we were building a computational research facility, and that’s what she did as a human computer,” said Mike Finneran, from NASA Langley’s communications department. “It made sense to name it after her. It fits, and it’s the right thing to do.”

Read more: NASA Langley set to honor Katherine Johnson with new building

Thursday, April 13, 2017

'Hidden Figure' Katherine Johnson to Deliver Hampton University Commencement Address

Hampton University is pleased to announce that Katherine G. Johnson, one of the leading inspirations behind the Hollywood feature film Hidden Figures, will serve as the University’s 147th Commencement speaker on May 14, 2017. Commencement will be held at Armstrong Stadium at 10 a.m.

Considered to be one of NASA's human 'computers,' Johnson performed the complex calculations that enabled humans to successfully achieve space flight. In 1961, Johnson was tasked with plotting the path for Alan Shepard's journey to space, the first in American history. Johnson was later responsible for verifying calculations of the "machines" and giving the "go-ahead" to propel John Glenn into successful orbit in 1962.

Johnson has been honored with an array of awards for her groundbreaking work. Among them are the 1967 NASA Lunar Orbiter Spacecraft and Operations team award, and the National Technical Association’s designation as its 1997 Mathematician of the Year. On Nov. 24, 2015, Johnson was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor, from President Barack Obama.

“With her razor-sharp mathematical mind, Katherine G. Johnson helped broaden the scope of space travel, charting new frontiers for humanity’s exploration of space, and creating new possibilities for all humankind," said Obama. "From sending the first American to space to the first moon landing, she played a critical role in many of NASA’s most important milestones. Katherine Johnson refused to be limited by society’s expectations of her gender and race while expanding the boundaries of humanity’s reach.”

Johnson earned a B.S. degree in mathematics and French from West Virginia State College. In 1999, that university named Johnson "Outstanding Alumnus of the Year."

Johnson had three daughters with her late husband James Goble. All of the daughters are graduates of Hampton University: Joylette Goble Hylick, '62, Constance Goble Garcia (deceased), ’73, and Katherine Goble Moore, ’70. Johnson is married to Lt. Col. USA(ret) James A. Johnson, ‘52. Johnson has six grandchildren (three of whom graduated from HU) and 11 great-grandchildren.

Monday, January 09, 2017

The Force is with Hidden Figures as it beats Rouge One for #1 movie in America

By George L. Cook III African American Reports

In a bit of a surprise three black female mathematicians beat out Darth Vader to become the #1 movie in America this weekend.

Hidden Figures didn't need light sabers or a force choke to dethrone the reigning box office champion It just needed a good story that resonated with viewers and a great cast to take the #1 spot. Hidden Figures earned 22.8 million over the weekend compared to Star Wars: Rogue One's 22.1 million. [SOURCE: VARIETY.COM]

Not only was Hidden Figures coming in #1 a bit of a surprise, the movie also beat projections that had it grossing 16-18 millions dollars.

HIDDEN FIGURES is the incredible untold story of Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), Dorothy Vaughn (Octavia Spencer) and Mary Jackson (Janelle Monáe)—brilliant African-American women working at NASA, who served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in history: the launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, a stunning achievement that restored the nation’s confidence, turned around the Space Race, and galvanized the world. The visionary trio crossed all gender and race lines to inspire generations to dream big.

Hidden Figures was co-produced by Pharrell Williams and stars Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons, Mahershala Ali, Aldis Hodge, Glen Powell, Kimberly Quinn and Kevin Costner.

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

President Obama wards the Medal of Freedom to Katherine Johnson

President Obama bestowed the Medal of Freedom to Johnson, a NASA mathematician who calculated and verified the travel trajectories that took the first Americans to space.

In his speech to the Congressional Black Caucus in September 2015, President Obama noted, “Black women have been a part of every great movement in American history—even if they weren’t always given a voice.” Most will think of this in the context of the civil rights movement, where black women helped plan the March on Washington, but were largely absent from the program, or perhaps even in the fight for women’s rights, from suffrage to the feminist movement. Very few, however, may know the role that women, particularly women of color, have played as innovators and leaders in the domains of science and technology.

On November 24th, President Obama bestowed the Medal of Freedom, the Nation’s highest civilian honor, to Katherine Johnson—a National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) mathematician who exhibited exceptional technical leadership, calculating and verifying trajectories that took the first Americans to space and to the moon.

Johnson’s recognition by President Obama marks a proud moment in American history because until recently, Johnson’s critical technical contributions to the space race were largely unknown to the world. The contributions and leadership of countless scientific and technical women and people of color who have been tremendous innovators have been left out of American history books, unfortunately. That’s why the Obama Administration is deeply committed to illuminating the great work and “untold history” of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), as well as also shining a light on the great potential of all of America’s children to lead the world as the next generation of discoverers, inventors, and high-tech entrepreneurs.

In addition, a feature film is in the works to share Katherine Johnson’s story, along with the other three black women that were crucial to the success of the NASA space missions of the 50s and 60s. It is truly an exciting time—there is momentum building where a number of organizations seek to harness the power of media and storytelling to incite change, specifically in the STEM inclusion domain. Popular entertainment media (e.g. television and film) can influence the public’s perceptions towards STEM by shaping, cultivating, or reinforcing the “cultural meanings” of STEM fields and careers. Currently, STEM men outpace STEM women 5 to 1 in family films. Entertainment media can, therefore, play a dichotomous role—it can either reinforce biases and stereotypes that discourage girls and minorities from pursuing STEM careers, or it can help to paint pictures of the inclusive STEM workforce the Nation aspires to achieve.

A number of exciting developments seek to change not only the way history has been written, but also help shape the future of who constitutes America’s STEM workforce. In 2014, the White House unveiled the Untold History of Women in Science and Technology site where female leaders from across the Administration share stories of their personal STEM ‘sheroes.’ Earlier this year, Wikipedia, which is among the leading online educational resources, launched a Year of Science initiative that aims to not only improve the quality of science articles on Wikipedia, but also expand Wikipedia’s representation of women scientists. Earlier this year, OSTP held an “Edit-A-Thon” during Black History Month to help source and share inspiring stories of African Americans who made important contributions in STEM.

Role models play an important role in shaping the future aspirations of youth and adults alike—they can help students envision themselves as STEM professionals, enhance perception of STEM careers, and boost confidence in studying STEM subjects. Katherine Johnson’s recognition by President Obama along with the plans to share her story mark a proud moment in American history—she is a role model that we are excited for the world to know.