AAAS NEWS: ERN Conference Brings Past and Present “Hidden Figures” to Light

Each year on the final night of the Emerging Researchers National (ERN) Conference in STEM, about 30 Ph.D.-level scientists and engineers who attended historically black colleges and universities as undergraduates line up on stage to introduce themselves and describe their current work. Seeing them, and hearing about their impressive achievements, often has a strong impact on current students, who may lack minority role models in STEM.

“It’s inspiring and hopeful to hear so many say ‘I was the first black Ph.D. to graduate in (blank) from (blank),'” one attendee tweeted from the conference, held 2-4 March in Washington, D.C.

Hearing the stories of African-American women who worked as “human computers” at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia, as revealed in the book Hidden Figures and the subsequent hit movie, has had a similar effect. The book’s author, Margot Lee Shetterly, was part of a special panel at the conference.

Read the complete AAAS story here.