Jonathan D. Farley

Jonathan D Farley

Guyanese-Jamaican Jonathan D. Farley is an associate professor at Morgan State University.  In 2005 Seed Magazine named Dr. Farley one of “15 people who have shaped the global conversation about science in 2005.”

Jonathan D Farley
Jonathan D Farley

Dr. Jonathan David Farley has been a Visiting Professor of Mathematics at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), a Science Fellow at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Mathematics at Harvard University, and a Visiting Associate Professor of Applied Mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Farley graduated summa cum laude from Harvard University in 1991 with the second-highest grade point average in his graduating class. (He earned 29 A’s and 3 A-’s.) While there, he won, among other awards, Harvard’s Wendell Prize, for the “most promising and catholic [small ‘c’] sophomore scholar.” He obtained his doctorate in mathematics from Oxford University in 1995, after winning Oxford’s highest mathematics awards, the Senior Mathematical Prize and Johnson University Prize, in 1994. In 2001-2002, he was a Fulbright Distinguished Scholar to the United Kingdom. He was one of only four Americans to win this award in 2001-2002.

He received tenure at Vanderbilt University in 2003, but fled Tennessee after receiving death threats from supporters of the founder of the Ku Klux Klan.

Dr. Farley is the 2004 recipient of the Harvard Foundation’s Distinguished Scientist of the Year Award, a medal presented on behalf of the president of Harvard University in recognition of “outstanding achievements and contributions in the field of mathematics.” The City of Cambridge, Massachusetts (home to both Harvard University and MIT) officially declared March 19, 2004 to be “Dr. Jonathan David Farley Day.” In 2004, Dr. Farley was recruited to serve as Head of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science at The University of the West Indies (Jamaica).

As if his career is not exciting enough, his work applying mathematics to counter-terrorism has been profiled in The Chronicle of Higher Education, in Science News and Science News Online, in The Economist Magazine, in USA Today, on Fox News Television, and on Air America Radio. He is Chief Scientist of Phoenix Mathematics, Inc., a company that develops mathematical solutions to homeland security-related problems. He has had face-to-face meetings discussing math-for-counter-terrorism with the Jamaican Minister of National Security, a former Director of the US National Security Agency and a former Deputy Director of the CIA, the director of Homeland Security for the Port of Los Angeles, a former US ambassador to the European Union, a former governor of the US state of New Mexico, a US Air Force general, two US Navy admirals and a former US Director of National Intelligence.

He founded Hollywood Math and Science Film Consulting. He wrote to the staff of Numb3rs, suggesting that they, in conjunction with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, create homework assignments that teachers could use focusing on the math and science in the show. Nine months later, Numb3rs inaugurated the “We All Use Math Every Day” program, with the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and Texas Instruments. This program creates homework assignments that teachers can use focusing on the math and science in the show. Dr. Farley also used his idea with Dr. Tony Harkin for Flatland the Movie, starring Martin Sheen, Michael York, and Kristen Bell.

Jonathan Farley has also worked with the National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering and the Algebra Project.  Jonathan Farley co-founded the consulting group Axum Educational Solutions.   He started Peren Linn Fashion, a line of math themed clothes for girls, with Frau Peren Linn and Girls Equal, a nonprofit with Ms. Mira Alden, to ignite interest in girls in the area of higher mathematics.

He is also involved with Equations of Peace which is a STEM cross cultural initiative.”

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Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson

Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson

African-American Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson is a mathematician who calculated orbital mechanics as a NASA employee. The calculations were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. manned spaceflights. In her 35 years as NASA employee, she mastered complex manual calculations and helped pioneer the use of computers to perform the tasks.

Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson
Katherine Coleman Goble Johnson

According to Wikipedia, Johnson’s work included calculating trajectories, launch windows and emergency return paths for Project Mercury spaceflights, including those of astronauts Alan Shepard, the first American in space, and John Glenn, the first American in orbit, and rendezvous paths for the Apollo lunar lander and command module on flights to the Moon. Her calculations were also essential to the beginning of the Space Shuttle program, and she worked on plans for a mission to Mars. In 2015, President Barack Obama awarded Johnson the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

Johnson graduated from high school at 14 and entered West Virginia State, where she took every math class they had to offer. Here professors included chemist and mathematician Angie Turner King, who had also mentored the girl throughout high school, and W.W. Schieffelin Claytor, the third African American to receive a PhD in math. Katherine graduated summa cum laude in 1937 with degrees in mathematics and French, at age 18.

She was the first African-American woman to attend graduate school at West Virginia University and became one of three African-American students, and the only female, selected to integrate the graduate school. The National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) was hiring mathematicians so she applied and was hired. From 1953 to 1958, Johnson analyzed topics such as gust alleviation for aircraft. From 1958 until her retirement in 1986, Johnson worked as an aerospace technologist, moving during her career to the Spacecraft Controls Branch. She calculated the trajectory for the May 5, 1961 space flight of Alan Shepard, the first American in space. She also calculated the launch window for his 1961 Mercury mission. She plotted backup navigation charts for astronauts in case of electronic failures. When NASA used electronic computers for the first time to calculate John Glenn’s orbit around Earth, officials called on Johnson to verify the computer’s numbers; Glenn had asked for her specifically and had refused to fly unless Johnson verified the calculations.

Johnson later worked directly with digital computers. Her ability and reputation for accuracy helped to establish confidence in the new technology. Later in her career, Johnson worked on the Space Shuttle program, the Earth Resources Satellite, and on plans for a mission to Mars.