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Physics Black History Month

Black History Month is celebrated every October. The university has a set of resources which can be accessed hereLink opens in a new window

Support for Black physicists can be found through Blackett Lab Family,Link opens in a new window a collective of UK based Black physicists: diversifying perceptions of physics and promoting Black representation at all levels in the field. Twitter under @Blackettlabfam.Link opens in a new window

#BlackinPhysics is a week dedicated to celebrating Black physicists. For 2022, it was celebrated from 24th-28th October, with a link to information and speakers hereLink opens in a new window. Details of previous events can be found hereLink opens in a new window, and the group has a feed on TwitterLink opens in a new window

An interview with some of the organizers of #BlackinPhysics week is published in Physics World hereLink opens in a new window

The department of Physics is proud of its commitment to diversity, and as part of Black History Month we highlight the following inspirational physicists:

Maggie Aderin-Pocock

Maggie Aderin-Pocock is a British space scientist, science educator and researcher. Born in London 1968, to Nigerian parents who separated when she was just four, a childhood diagnosis of dyslexia could not hold her back. In 1994 after graduating with a degree in physics from Imperial College London, Maggie continued her pursuit of academic excellence as a PhD student in the field of spectroscopy and interferometry also at Imperial. Recognized as an exceptional engineer, she would later work across industry, academia and government institutions spanning projects across high-tech defense equipment to astronomical telescopes. Dr Aderin-Pocock has long been passionate about inspiring the next generation of young scientists, especially for students in deprived areas of inner-city London. Her expertise has earned her consulting roles for scientific television productions, and more recently she found a natural flare for presenting in shows such as Do We Really Need the Moon? and The Sky at Night. In 2009 she was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire in recognition for her for services to science education. Today Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock is an Honorary Research Associate in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at University College London, and sits on the UK Research and Innovation Council

Mark Richards

Mark Richards is a British atmospheric physicist and teaching fellow at Imperial College London. Richards was born in Nottingham 1970 to his Jamaican parents, but was raised predominantly by his mother, a nurse who greatly valued education as a ‘passport out of poverty’. Mark Richards attributes his initial drive in pursuing an academic career to a high-school chemistry test where he achieved top marks much to the dismay of his fellow classmates. Upon completing a BSc in chemistry from Manchester, his determination to ‘battle the boffins’ saw him carry out a PhD also at Imperial College, as the only Black student in his cohort. After a short stint in finance, Richards took a research role at Imperial College and co-founded a spin-out company specialising in wireless air sensing technologies for real-time pollution monitoring. Dr Mark Richards is now a member of the Physics Teaching Staff at Imperial and heads the departmental outreach programme. He is an active member of the Imperial As One initiative which aims to address race equality issues across the university and is a passionate advocate for widening participation at higher-education institutes. opens in a new window

Stephon Alexander

Stephon Alexander is a professor of theoretical physics at Brown University in the USA, specialising in cosmology, string theory and quantum gravity. He previously held postdoctoral research fellowships at Imperial College, London and the Stanford University Linear Accelerator Center, before gaining a faculty position at Penn State. He is currently president of the National Society of Black Physicists in America. A further interest includes the interplay between music, physics, maths and technology

The Jazz of Physics TEDxSanDiagoLink opens in a new window

Chris Jackson

Professor Chris Jackson is a geophysicist who has had an academic career at both Imperial, and at Manchester University, where he was appointed Chair in Sustainable Geoscience. His research focused in three main areas: the tectono-stratigraphic evolution of rift basins, salt tectonics, and using seismic data analysis to study deep-water sedimentology and stratigraphy. He is an excellent teacher and communicator, and in December 2020 presented one of the Royal Institution's Christmas LecturesLink opens in a new window looking at the Earth's inner workings

Meet Chris JacksonLink opens in a new window

It's not such a rocky roadLink opens in a new window

Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson was a physicist and mathematician who worked for NASA calculating trajectory analysis for their space program in the 1950's and 1960's. Her pioneering work enabled orbital flights to take place with confidence, and was made into a film 'Hidden Figures', which also featured fellow black scientists Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. She continued her work at NASA, and was involved with Project Apollo, the Space Shuttle and the Earth Resources Technology Satellite. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2015, age 97, and died on 24th February 2020.

Who was Katherine Johnson?Link opens in a new window

Hidden Figures trailerLink opens in a new window