mlk Week 2021


Historically, the Black, Indigeneous, and People of Color (BIPOC) community has been underrepresented in science and mathematics. The College of Science recognizes that scientific research benefits from diversity in the lab and in the classroom, and we are working to promote a culture of acceptance, equity, and inclusion in our college. This is ongoing work, and takes the dedication of all of us to strive to improve. This month, we are highlighting Black chemists, biologists, physicists, astronomers and mathematicians that have made extraordinary contributions to their field. 

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Week (MLK Week) has become a platform to engage students, faculty, staff and community members in critical conversations around contemporary Civil Rights issues and race in America. The University is planning numerous activities for MLK week. We hope that students, faculty and staff are able to find ways to participate in these opportunities. 

The College of Science has developed a series of Zoom backgrounds highlighting Black scientists and mathematicians. We encourage you to use these during MLK week and the upcoming semester. 

Zoom Backgrounds


Please download and use these zoom backgrounds highlighting Black scientists and mathematicians to use during MLK week and the upcoming spring semester.

To add and use a Virtual Background in Zoom:

  • Right click and save the Virtual Background image.
  • Under Zoom - Preferences/Settings, choose Background and Filters.
  • Click the plus sign (+) to the right of Virtual Backgrounds to upload a new background image.
  • For further instructions, consult Zoom's Help Center.

Alice Ball

Dr. Alice Augusta Ball (July 24, 1892 – December 31, 1916) was an American chemist who developed the "Ball Method", the most effective treatment for leprosy during the early 20th century. She was the first woman and first African American to receive a master's degree from the University of Hawaii, and was also the university's first female and African American chemistry professor.

Edray H. Goins

Dr. Goins is a Professor of Mathematics at Pomona College. He specializes in number theory and algebraic geometry, and his interests include Selmer groups for elliptic curves using class groups of number fields, Belyi maps and Dessin d'enfants. He grew up in Los Angeles, obtained a Ph.D. from Stanford (1999) and he was previously at Purdue University. He was the president of the National Association of Mathematicians (NAM) which seeks to promote the success of underrepresented minorities in the mathematical sciences. He spends most of his summers engaging underrepresented students in research.

Renee Horton

Dr. K. Renee Horton is a native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana and lifelong lover of science and NASA. A graduate of Louisiana State University with a B.S. of Electrical Engineering with a minor in Math in 2002 and a Ph.D. in Material Science with a concentration in Physics, becoming the first African American to graduate from the University of Alabama in 2011 in this area. Dr. Horton currently serves as the Space Launch System (SLS) Quality Engineer in the NASA Residential Management Office at Michoud Assembly Facility (MAF) in New Orleans. In 2016, Dr. Horton was elected President of the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP) as the second woman to hold the office, and In 2017, she was elevated to a Fellow in the NSBP, which is the highest honor bestowed upon a member.

Robert Henry Lawrence Jr.

Dr. Robert Henry Lawrence Jr. was a chemist by training, and was also the first African American astronaut. Lawrence was born in Chicago in 1935. After graduating from Bradley University with a chemistry degree, he joined the United States Air Force, eventually becoming a test pilot.

Soon after, the Air Force selected him to become an astronaut to work on low-orbit intelligence missions. This program was the precursor to the NASA’s space shuttle program. During his training, Lawrence also got a PhD in physical chemistry from the Ohio State University.

Lawrence never made it into space. In 1967, he died during a training flight at Edwards Air Force Base. He had completed about 2,500 hours of flight time in his short career. Bradley University named a scholarship in Lawrence’s honor, and a school in Chicago was also named for him. On Feb. 14, 2020, a shuttle bearing Lawrence’s name embarked for the International Space Station, carrying, among other things, supplies for scientific research.

Brandon Ogbunu

Dr. Ogbunu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and leader of the Genetics, Ecology, Evolution, and Quantitative Science (GEEQS) Lab at Yale University. His research takes place at the intersection of evolutionary biology, genetics, and epidemiology. He uses experimental evolution, mathematical modeling, and computational biology to better understand the underlying causes and consequences of disease, across scales: from the biophysics of proteins involved in drug resistance to the social determinants driving epidemics at the population level. In doing so, he aims to develop theory that enriches our understanding of the evolutionary and ecological underpinnings of disease, while contributing to practical solutions for clinical medicine and public health. 

Chanda Prescod-Weinstein

Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein is an Assistant Professor of Physics and Core Faculty Member in Women’s Studies at the University of New Hampshire. In addition, she is a monthly columnist at New Scientist and a contributing columnist at Physics World. Her work lives at the intersection of particle physics and astrophysics, and while she is primarily a theoretical researcher, maintains strong ties to astronomy.  Dr. Prescod-Weinstein is a topical convenor for Dark Matter: Cosmic Probes in the Snowmass 2021 process, and a lead axion wrangler for the NASA STROBE-X Probe Concept Study. Using ideas from both physics and astronomy, she responds to deep questions about how everything in the universe got to be the way it is. In addition, she researches feminist science studies, and believes all have the right to know the universe.

Candice R. Price

Dr. Price is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at Smith College. Her primary area of mathematical research is DNA topology, that is, knot theory applied to the structure of DNA, but she has research interests in the broad area of applied mathematics. She is a co-founder of the Underrepresented Students in Topology and Algebra Research Symposium (USTARS) and co-creator of the website mathematicallygiftedandblack.com that features profiles of Black mathematicians. Her service mission is to support those underrepresented in STEM by creating and supporting programs that increase visibility and amplify the voices of women and people of color in STEM while creating networks and community in STEM to provide opportunities to share resources. 

Clifton Sanders

Clifton G. Sanders, Ph.D., is the Provost for Academic Affairs at Salt Lake Community College. A chemist by training, he has more than 25 years teaching, administrative and leadership experience in higher education. He has held several administrative posts at SLCC, including Division Chair for Natural Sciences, Dean of Science, Mathematics and Engineering, and Interim Vice President for Workforce and Literacy. Dr. Sanders led the development of several STEM programs and has provided leadership for several local and national initiatives in STEM education and workforce development, including major grants sponsored by the Department of Labor and the Department of Energy, and collaborative projects with the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) and Utah MESA/STEP. Prior to joining SLCC, Dr. Sanders was a senior research scientist and has several patents in biomaterials technology. His research was sponsored by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense.