Prominent African-American Mathematicians

Jesse Ernest Wilkins, Jr. exemplifies and is addressed as one of America’s admirable unorthodox mathematicians. He was portrayed as the University of Chicago’s youngest student at the tender age of thirteen. Wilkins proceeded to his education there, earning his bachelor, master and doctorate degrees in mathematics. When he finished his Ph. D. at 19, he was recognized by the national press as a “negro genius. ”

Jesse Ernest Wilkins taught at the Tuskegee Institute (1943-1944) prior returning to the University of Chicago to contribute to the Manhattan Project (1944-1946). He then entered industry, advancing to high positions at: American Optical Company (1946-1950), United Nuclear Corporation (1950-1960) and General Atomic Company (1960-1970). He also earned bachelor and master degrees in mechanical engineering from New York University (1957, 1960). In 1970, Wilkins became the Distinguished Professor of Applied Mathematical Physics at Howard University.

He was remembered as being very inspirational to his students and for starting Howard’s Ph. D. program in mathematics. (http://www. blackpast. org) J. Ernest Wilkins is a member of various professional societies and has been awarded several honors in his distinguished career including: President of the American Nuclear Society (1974-1975), Council Member of the American Mathematical Society (1975-1977) and Outstanding Civilian Service Medal by the U. S. Army (1980). He has published numerous papers in mathematics, optics and nuclear engineering.

His greatest contribution to scholarship is the development of mathematical models to explain gamma radiation and his subsequent work on developing a shielding against gamma radiation. A fifth grade gifted program provided accessibility to William A. Massey to the introduction of Euclidean geometry and number systems of differing bases. His interests in drawing and graphic arts assisted him to comprehend the application of perspective and proportion. In seventh grade, William A. Massey executed an exam involving a type of abstract reasoning.

He excelled and exceeded far beyond his classmates on the same exam. Essentially, from that moment, he apprehended the aspiration of becoming a mathematician. William A. Massey’s authentic comprehension of mathematics as a researcher initiated as a college student at Princeton University. He specialized in abstract algebra and number theory while acquiring real, complex and functional analysis. He maintained his scientific interests by taking physics courses all four years, as well.

William A. Massey was awarded an aggressive Bell Laboratories fellowship that was established to increase the number of minority Ph. D. ’s in the sciences, which paid for his acquisition of the doctorate of philosophy in mathematics at Stanford University.William A. Massey has made many original contributions as a mathematician by developing a theory of “dynamical queueing systems”. His research on queueing networks led  to new methods of comparing multi-dimensionalone.

One of William A. Massey most cited papers progresses an algorithm to find a dynamic, optimal server staffing schedule for telephone call centers with time varying demand and ultimately led to a patent. An additional highly cited paper initiates a dynamic model for the offered load traffic of wireless communication networks. In 1925 Elbert Frank Cox was allocated the Doctor of Philosophy degree in mathematics from Cornell and he is the first known Black to receive the Ph. D. in Mathematics in the United States; ultimately, in the world.

In September 1925, he accepted a teaching position at West Virginia State College. Elbert Frank Cox remained there four years and in 1929 moved to Howard University. Cox remained at Howard until his retirement in 1965 and served as chairman of the Mathematics Department from 1957-1961. In 1975, the Howard University Mathematics Department, at the time of the inauguration of the Ph. D. program, established the Elbert F. Cox Scholarship Fund for undergraduate mathematics majors to encourage young Black students to study mathematics at the graduate level. http://www. maa. org/summa/archive/Cox_EF. htm) While Elbert Frank Cox did not live to see the inauguration of the Ph. D. program at Howard, it is comprehended by various individuals that Cox accomplished plenty to initiate such possibilities.

He assisted to build up the department to the point that the Ph. D. program became a practical next step. He gave the department an extensive deal of credibility; primarily due to his personal prestige as a mathematician, due to the fact od exemplifying and exhibiting first Black to acquire a Ph. D. in mathematics, because of the nature and kinds of appointments to the faculty that were made while he chaired the Department and because of the kinds of students that he attracted to Howard to study mathematics at both the undergraduate and graduate (master’s) levels. Cox’s portrait hangs in Howard’s Mathematics Common Room as a consistent reminder of his contribution to the Mathematics Department, the University and the Community of Scholars in general. (http://www. maa. org/summa/archive/Cox_EF. htm)

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