NAS Announces Programs in Celebration of African American History Month

WASHINGTON – In February, the National Academy of Sciences will hold a series of events in celebration of African American History Month. In addition, NAS has launched a new Web site featuring in-depth biographies of African Americans who have made outstanding contributions to society through science, engineering, and medicine. For more information, visit

Date: Jan. 22, 2010
Press Contact: Alana Quinn, Senior Program Associate
Cultural Programs of the National Academy of Sciences
202-334-2415; e-mail
Public Contact: 202-334-2436; e-mail

Supported by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine, the goal of the African American History Program (AAHP) is to heighten awareness of the contributions of African Americans to science, engineering, medicine, and the nation’s welfare.  The events and programs organized by the AAHP and its collection of online biographies are also tools for promoting broader understanding of science, engineering, and medicine.  The AAHP was established in 1986.


AAHP Web site


The AAHP Web site features biographies and slideshows of more than 60 African Americans who have made important contributions to science, engineering, and medicine.  The site also highlights historical figures who paved the way for others through their work in politics, education, law, and social justice.  Recently added members include:

Wanda Austin, president and CEO, The Aerospace Corp., Los Angeles

Meredith Gourdine, founder, Energy Innovations, Houston

Wesley Harris, Charles Stark Draper Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge

Cato Laurencin, vice president for health affairs, University of Connecticut Health Center, and dean, University of Connecticut School of Medicine, Farmington

Floyd Malveaux, executive director, Merck Childhood Asthma Network Inc. (MCAN), Washington, D.C.

Ken Olden, director emeritus and principal investigator, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and the National Toxicology Program, Research Triangle Park, N.C.
Willie Pearson Jr., professor of sociology, School of History, Technology, and Society, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta
Gerald Thomson, Lambert and Sonneborn Professor of Medicine Emeritus and senior associate dean emeritus, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York City


Multi-cultural group

Second Annual AAHP Free Family Day
Saturday, Feb. 27, noon to 5 p.m.
Koshland Science Museum
6th & E streets, N.W.
Admission: Free. No reservations required.


The 2010 U.S. census is fast approaching, and researchers have worked hard to ensure that the numbers are as accurate as possible.  Everything from school funding to how many delegates a state has in the U.S. House of Representatives is determined by the census count.  In addition, the demographic information collected by the census paints a vivid picture of who we are as a people.  At this free family day, participants will explore plans for the 2010 census, take part in activities that illuminate the statistics behind the count, examine how cultural issues and perceptions of race affect the census, and study how census taking and racial descriptions have changed over time.


Ritz Chamber Players

Sunday, Feb. 14, 6:30 p.m.
National Gallery of Art
West Building
Main Floor, West Garden Court

Entrance at 6th Street & Constitution Avenue, N.W.

Admission: Free. No tickets or reservations required. Seating is on a first-come, first-served basis.


An ensemble that brings fresh, new energy to the classical genre, the Ritz Chamber Players is the nation's first chamber music ensemble comprised solely of accomplished musicians spanning the African Diaspora.  These acclaimed soloists created this ensemble in 2002, made their triumphant debut at Carnegie Hall in 2004, their international radio debut with the BBC in 2005, and their national television debut as performers on the NAACP Image Awards in 2006.  The group will perform Mozart's Quartet for Flute and String no. 1 in D major, K285, Villa Lobos's Assobio a Jato (the Jet Whistle), Coleridge Taylor Perkinson's Lamentations: Black Folk Song Suite for Solo Cello, and Dvorak's Piano Quartet No. 2 in E flat major.

by Dr. Wanda M. Austin

Second Annual AAHP Lecture

Thursday, Feb. 18, 7 p.m.
Keck Center, 500 Fifth St., N.W., Room 100
Admission: Free. Reservations required. E-mail or call 202-334-2415.


Dr. Wanda Austin will address the importance of personal values and how working for an employer with similiar values can help one achieve desired results that impact communities, companies, and citizens. She will speak about specific examples, including the key role values play in the successful development and operation of complex space systems and the monitoring of space debris accumulating in orbit around Earth.  Austin is president and chief executive officer of the Aerospace Corp., a leading architect for the nation’s national security space programs.  A National Academy of Engineering member, she is internationally recognized for her work in satellite and payload system acquisition, systems engineering, and system simulation.


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