“The experiences, struggles, and achievements of Black innovators in all areas of STEM are infinite,” said Darryl Williams, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Science and Education at The Franklin Institute. “During Black History Month and every month, it’s critical to highlight the leaders who are creating positive change in their area of expertise and within their communities, inspiring the next generation to add to this legacy of advancement.”
From inspirational pioneers in engineering to courageous trailblazers in space, the Franklin Institute honors and amplifies the influential contributions of Black scientists, innovators, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians—both past and present—with museum programming and weekly live virtual events led by Franklin Institute scientists with special guests.
Learn About Black Scientists at The Franklin Institute
Museum guests can learn about the lives and contributions of influential African Americans in science with new bio-sketch installations within exhibits that relate to their particular STEM field. Learn about:
Loni Philip Tabb, Ph.D Associate Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Drexel University
Found by the Philadelphia Map in the Giant Heart exhibit
Derrick Pitts, Chief Astronomer at The Franklin Institute
Found in Telescope Hall
Katherine Johnson, NASA Research Mathematician
Found in Sir Issac’s Loft exhibit
Barrington Irving, first Black and first Jamaican-born American record-holder for the youngest person to pilot a plane around the world solo
Found in the hallway outside of the Air Show exhibit
Guion Bluford, Ph.D, first African American to go to space
Found in the Space Command Exhibit
James West, American inventor and acoustician
Found in the Electricity exhibit
Albert Hicks, M.D. Cardiology Specialist in Philadelphia
Found adjacent to the Giant Heart exhibit
Nadja West, M.D. 44th Surgeon General of the United States Army and former Commanding General of the United States Army Medical Command.
Found in the Brain Exhibit
Go Live with our Scientists!
Chief Astronomer Derrick Pitts met with Dr. Gibor Basri to learn about his amazing career as an astrophysicist and his work to improve diversity, equity, and inclusion in astronomy. View it on our YouTube channel. Was filmed live on February 4.
Chief Bioscientist Dr. Jayatri Das was joined by Penn Medicine staff to discuss COVID-19 vaccine education, decision making, and access for all. View it on our YouTube channel. Was filmed live on February 8.
Environmental Scientist Dr. Rachel Valletta welcomed back Tykee James, Government Affairs Coordinator with the National Audobon Society, to explore climate change as a racial justice issue and how climate and conservation solutions can bring a more equitable future for us all. View on our YouTube channel. Was filmed live on February 17.
Our Sr Vice President of Science and Education, Dr. Darryl Williams, who is also a chemical engineer, invited the chief technology officer of Ford Motor Company, Dr. Ken Washington, for an enlightening conversation about the evolving auto industry and the future of mobility. View it on our YouTube channel. Was filmed live on February 23.
From Our Library
Why Are There So Few Black Astronomers, hosted by Chief Astronomer Derrick Pitts
A Science Story, highlighting the career of Chief Astronomer Derrick Pitts
COVID-19 & Racism as a Public Health Crisis, hosted by Chief Bioscientist Jayatri Das, PhD with featured guest, Biostatistician Dr. Loni Philip Tabb (Drexel University)
Black History Month programming is presented by Braskem, the Official Diversity & Inclusion Partner of The Franklin Institute.