Feb 04, 2024

Math Monday: Highlighting Black Mathematicians in the Classroom

This Math Monday, we’re celebrating Black History Month with profiles of three amazing Black mathematicians that you can bring into your classroom. 


Find these profiles - and 36 more! - in the Math in Action slide deck!


Dr. Candice Price

Candice Price is an Associate Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Smith College. Her mission is to “support communities historically and systemically excluded in STEM by creating and supporting programs that increase visibility, amplify the voices of women and people of color and create networks and community in STEM to provide opportunities to share resources.” She is the co-founder of Mathematically Gifted and Black and Underrepresented Students in Topology and Algebra Research Symposium (USTARS). (from her website)


Watch her interview with MEET a Mathematician!


Possible Questions:

  • What does Dr. Price say drew her to become a mathematician?
  • What type of math does Dr. Price do? How does she describe it?
  • Dr. Price describes how she’s impacted by imposter syndrome. Have you ever felt similarly? Why or why not?
  • What words of wisdom does Dr. Price offer?
  • Dr. Price offers words of wisdom to “surround yourself with people who support you, to understand that you are talented…and be that for someone else too”. Brainstorm: what steps could you take to action that advice?


Dr. Christine Darden

Christine Darden is a mathematician and engineer who worked at NASA for 40 years, specializing in researching sonic booms and designing quieter supersonic planes. She was the first African American woman to be promoted to the top management rank of Senior Executive Service at NASA. In 2019, she was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian award in the country, for her work at NASA.


Watch her speak in this video from Quanta Magazine.

Possible Questions

  • Dr. Darden started working at NASA in 1967, after the 1964 Civil Rights Act passed, banning segregation and employment discrimination. How did discrimination still impact her work at NASA?
  • What risk does Dr. Darden describe taking to get her position at NASA?
  • What causes a sonic boom?
  • Dr. Darden gives the advice to “speak up about what you want to do”. Have you ever had to speak up about an unfair situation? What was that like?
  • Dr. Darden recommends the 4 P’s: to perceive yourself in that job, to plan how to get there, to prepare, and to persist. Which of these steps is easiest for you? Hardest?


Dr. Reginald ‘RB’ McGee

Reginald ‘RB’ McGee is an assistant professor at College of the Holy Cross who studies computational immunobiology. He began his studies in Actuarial Science, before changing his major to Math and eventually focusing on the intersection of math and biology. 


Read his profile from Mathematically Gifted and Black



Possible Questions:

  • How did Dr. McGee feel about math growing up? Do you relate? Why or why not?
  • What is Dr. McGee’s proudest achievement in his career?
  • Dr. McGee says he’s proudest of his “new sense of adventure and curiosity”. 
    • Are you adventurous? Why or why not?
    • What is something new that you’ve been trying to practice?


About the Author

Kathryn Dawson

Kathryn (she/her) is excited to join the NGPF team after 9 years of experience in education as a mentor, tutor, and special education teacher. She is a graduate of Cornell University with a degree in policy analysis and management and has a master's degree in education from Brooklyn College. Kathryn is looking forward to bringing her passion for accessibility and educational justice into curriculum design at NGPF. During her free time, Kathryn loves embarking on cooking projects, walking around her Seattle neighborhood with her partner and dog, or lounging in a hammock with a book.

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