MIT alumna Shirley Ann Jackson, who inspired the founder of the National Conference of Black Physics Students (NCBPS), will be the keynote speaker when the group returns to its MIT roots for its 11th annual meeting from February 28 to March 1.
In 1986, Dr. Jackson's photograph on the cover of Ebony impelled MIT graduate student Cynthia R. McIntyre to organize the first NCBPS conference. Dr. McIntyre (PhD '90), now the Commonwealth Professor of Physics at George Mason University, will return to the MIT campus to run the faculty/recruiter workshop at this year's conference.
Professor McIntyre invited graduate student Manyalibo Matthews to chair the conference this year. Mr. Matthews, 26, attended his first NCBPS conference while an undergraduate at the University of California at Davis. "I was the only black physics student I knew," recalled Mr. Matthews, who grew up in Berkeley, CA. "It was an eye-opening experience."
President Charles M. Vest and Professor Ernest J. Moniz, head of the Department of Physics, will welcome about 200 African-American graduate and undergraduate physics students to the campus on Friday morning, Feb. 28, to open the conference.
That afternoon, two distinguished physicists, University of Maryland Professor Sylvester J. Gates (SBs '73, PhD '77) and Dr. James M. Turner (PhD '71) of the Department of Energy, will lead a panel discussion on the theme of the conference, "Physics: The Possibilities Are Endless."
Nonacademic recruiters offering employment possibilities at the conference will include the Hughes Space and Communications Group, the Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corp., Corning Inc. and Los Alamos National Laboratory. College recruiters from George Mason, Alabama A&M, Fisk, Florida A&M, Penn State, Stanford, Johns Hopkins, the University of California at Berkeley, Kentucky and the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory are also scheduled to attend.
After the students tour the MIT laboratories on Friday afternoon, Dr. Jackson (SB '68, PhD '73), will deliver the keynote address at dinner. The first African-American woman to receive a doctorate in theoretical solid state physics from MIT, she has been the chair of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission since July 1995.
The closing address at dinner on Saturday, March 1 will be delivered by Walter Massey, president of Morehouse College in Atlanta.
This year's conference was organized by a committee of MIT undergraduate and graduate students. In addition to Mr. Matthews, members of the committee are Sandra Brown, Marta Dark, Kimani Stancil, Grum Teklamariam, Alison Morgan, Alicia Jillian Hardy, David Hackett, Tehani Finch, Julio Dagraca, Pamela Blakeslee and Lyndie Williamson.
The conference is sponsored in part by NASA Goddard, NASA and the Department of Energy.
For more information, visit the Web page at http://web.mit.edu/people/mldark/ncbps.html>.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 26, 1997.