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Sekazi Mtingwa

Research physicist and physics professor Sekazi K. Mtingwa was born on October 20, 1949 in Atlanta, Georgia. After receiving his B.S. degrees in physics and pure mathematics (Phi Beta Kappa) from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1971, Mtingwa enrolled at Princeton University and graduated from there with his M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in theoretical high energy physics in 1976. Mtingwa was awarded doctoral fellowships from the National Fellowships Fund and the Ford Foundation. Upon graduation, he was awarded post-doctoral fellowships and research assistantships at the University of Rochester, the University of Maryland at College Park, and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab).

In 1981, Mtingwa joined Fermilab as a research physicist where he, along with James Bjorken, developed a theory of particle beam dynamics, “intrabeam scattering,” which standardized the performance limitations on a wide class of modern accelerators. Mtingwa also played an important role in the design and construction of two of the Antiproton Source accelerator systems at Fermilab that were used in the discovery of the top quark and other particles. During 1988-1991, Mtingwa joined the staff of Argonne National Laboratory where he performed research on a futuristic accelerator concept called wakefield acceleration. In 1991, Mtingwa joined the faculty at North Carolina A & T State University as Chair and Professor of physics. Mtingwa was named J. Ernest Wilkins, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Physics at Morgan State University in 1997 and then returned to North Carolina A & T State University in 1999. He served as the Martin Luther King, Jr. Visiting Professor of Physics at MIT from 2001 to 2003. He joined the faculty at Harvard University in 2003, where he served as Visiting Professor of Physics for two years. Returning to MIT in 2006, Mtingwa was named Lead Physics Lecturer in the Concourse Program in the Office of the Dean for Undergraduate Education. He was also appointed as the Faculty Director of Academic Programs in the Office of Minority Education. In 2011, he became Principal Partner of Triangle Science, Education & Economic Development, LLC and he was appointed Senior Physics Consultant at Brookhaven National Laboratory.

In addition to his research activities, Mtingwa is involved in a number of national and international initiatives. He is a founder of the African Laser Centre (ALC) and was the principal author of the Strategy and Business Plan upon which the ALC is based. In 1977, Mtingwa was a co-founder of the National Society of Black Physicists (NSBP) and served as NSBP President from 1992 to 1994.

Mtingwa has been recognized by national and international organizations for his contributions to science. In 1996, he received the Outstanding Service Award for Contributions to the African American Physics Community from the National Society of Black Physicists. The National Council of Ghanaian Associations honored Mtingwa with the Science Education Award in 2007 for advancing science education among African peoples. Mtingwa was inducted into the African American Biographies Hall of Fame in 1994, and he was elected as a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 2008.

Sekazi Mtingwa is married to W. Estella Johnson; they have two daughters.

Research physicist and physics professor Sekazi K. Mtingwa was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 6, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.076

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/6/2013

Last Name

Mtingwa

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

Kauze

Occupation
Schools

Princeton University

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Henry McNeal Turner High School

Alonzo F. Herndon Elementary

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Sekazi

Birth City, State, Country

Atlanta

HM ID

MTI01

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Georgia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cape Town, South Africa

Favorite Quote

Stay yourself.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Birth Date

10/20/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Hillsborough

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Sea Bass (Mediterranean)

Short Description

Nuclear physicist Sekazi Mtingwa (1949 - ) contributed to the design and construction of the accelerator systems used in the discovery of the top quark at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. Mtingwa is a founder of the National Society of Black Physicists and the National Society of Hispanic Physicists, and he has made significant contributions to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education.

Employment

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

Harvard University

North Carolina A&T State University

Morgan State University

Argonne National Laboratory

Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

University of Rochester

University of Maryland, College Park

Favorite Color

Salmon

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Sekazi Mtingwa's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Sekazi Mtingwa lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Sekazi Mtingwa describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about his siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about his mother

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Sekazi Mtingwa describes his father's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about his stepfather

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Sekazi Mtingwa describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Sekazi Mtingwa describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about his neighborhood

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Sekazi Mtingwa describes the sights, sounds, and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about his schools

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Sekazi Mtingwa describes when he first decided to become a physicist

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about his high school extracurricular activities

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about his high school mentors

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about transitioning from high school to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about the formation of the black student union at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about the black student union at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about why he chose physics as his field

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about his mentors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Princeton University

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about Alexander Pushkin pt. 1

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about Alexander Pushkin pt. 2

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about his time at Princeton University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Sekazi Mtingwa describes his doctoral dissertation

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about changing his name

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Sekazi Mtingwa describes assisting in the establishment of a university in Tanzania

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Sekazi Mtingwa describes what he did after receiving his doctoral degree from Princeton University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about his work at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Sekazi Mtingwa explains the Higgs boson, dark matter, and dark energy

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Sekazi Mtingwa describes his involvement in the Harold Washington Campaign

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Sekazi Mtingwa describes why he joined the group at Argonne National Laboratory

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about being featured in several magazines

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Sekazi Mtingwa describes his involvement in various African organizations

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Sekazi Mtingwa describes his physics research as an exchange scholar in the Soviet Union

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about racial prejudice in the field of physics

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about the International Linear Collider

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Sekazi Mtingwa describes his time as the Chair of the Physics Department at North Carolina A & T University

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Sekazi Mtingwa describes his involvement in the African Laser Centre

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Sekazi Mtingwa describes how the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has changed since he was a student

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about visiting Russia for a nuclear waste disposal examination

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Sekazi Mtingwa reflects on his awards and recognitions

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Sekazi Mtingwa describes his study 'Readiness of the U.S. Nuclear Workforce for Twenty-first Century Problems'

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about his involvement in President Barack Obama's campaigns

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about being the chair of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Study

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Sekazi Mtingwa describes his visit to Tanzania

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Sekazi Mtingwa describes his involvement with organization that provide access to scientific instruments

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Sekazi Mtingwa describes his involvement in the African Physical Society

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about his work on textbooks

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Sekazi Mtingwa describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Sekazi Mtingwa reflects on his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Sekazi Mtingwa reflects on his life

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Sekazi Mtingwa talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$6

DAStory

1$5

DATitle
Sekazi Mtingwa talks about the black student union at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Sekazi Mtingwa describes his study 'Readiness of the U.S. Nuclear Workforce for Twenty-first Century Problems'
Transcript
Tell us about the beginnings of the black student union at MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts]?$$Okay. So we had a group, maybe about ten students, who would get together informally to meet. And you have to understand that the context of that period, with the Vietnam War, protests going on all over the place, you know, the Black Liberation Movement was in full swing. So, some of us, you know, were a part of that type of way of thinking, and we wanted to try to move MIT ahead. So we formed around 1968, probably the fall of '68 [1968]. The first co-chairs were Shirley Jackson, and I think The HistoryMakers did an interview of her. She's now president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute [Troy, New York]. And James Turner, who was a graduate student--in fact, at that time, they were both graduate students. Shirley was three years ahead of me. So my sophomore year, she was a first-year graduate student. James Turner, I think he must have been about a third or fourth-year graduate student in physics; they were both in physics. And James Turner actually most--he went on to become a top official at the Department of Energy, and most recently, I think, he's been at the Department of Commerce. But he had quite a career at the top levels of federal government. But, yeah, we basically met and we decided, "Hey let's just do this." And so we formed. And we tried to--one of the biggest initiatives was to get more black students into MIT. So we worked hard on that. And so, at the end of my sophomore year going into the junior year, that entering class went from the typical five-ish to fifty-three. And so the numbers have been big ever since. And, in fact, to this day MIT, again, admits only out of a thousand, eleven hundred students; about 20 percent of those are African Americans; and another 20 percent or so are Latino-Americans. So that we've (simultaneous)--$$(Unclear)--$$--come a long ways. Yeah. But it's interesting. One of the interesting things that helped the African American presence is the students who are immigrants or who are children of African Caribbean immigrants, because that's one thing that you note from the names when you meet many of the students. So that has really helped us intellectually. The black community in this country intellectually has been tremendously enhanced by immigrant students. They come here with a parent wanting a better life for their children, and so they come with that, you know, "Go to college, get your degree," and all that. And you can see the pay off. I don't think we could hit 20 percent of the students, African American students, if we didn't have the immigrants.$$They have a good observation.$$Yeah. It's a great thing. I tend to be a Pan-African, is to me, whether you're from the Caribbean, the continental of the U.S., we're all African peoples.$$Is this something you learned at home or something that you--$$No. I got so much at home, but just as I developed as a graduate student--really as a graduate student, I really became, you know, convinced that, you know, we're all the same. And then having traveled to Africa, you know, so many times. I think that the way people colonize, it's just--it's very similar to--the stories you hear are very similar to the stories of people like me out of Jim Crow South.$$Okay. Just in a different location.$$Just in a different location.$$Similar situations.$$Similar situations, yeah. Yeah.$$And--now. All right. So, the BSU [black student union] really made some gains (unclear).$$Oh, yeah. Definitely. Definitely.$$And I know it still exists actually.$$It still exists. It still exists.$$Shot a picture of it when I was there (simultaneous) (unclear)--$$Oh, you did? All right. That was great.$$--I was walking down the hallway and I saw it. And I said, "Oh, this is the famous BSU at MIT." And I thought--I shot it on my phone (simultaneous) (unclear)--$$Oh, really. Okay.$$--as to--yeah.$$(unclear), you know, it's still alive and well.$$Yeah. Yeah. So many of the people we met were a part--$$It was a part of that, yes.$Now, you were on the Nuc-- the 'Readiness of the U.S. Nuclear Workforce.'$$Okay, yeah. So that was a study I did because I'm--we have a real problem with training, you know, the next generation of nuclear scientists and engineers. And at one point, the Department of Energy, DOE, was cutting back funding the university programs, so I was concerned. You know, if you start cutting back, who is going to operate? Who's going to design the next generation of nuclear reactors if the people are not being educated? So we did this study, and we pointed out to them, you know, how many people are graduating, how much money is going into the university programs. And this report turned out to be extremely important in convincing DOE to turn its attitude around toward university education. And so since this report, their 20 percent of the nuclear fuel--Research and Development Budget--nuclear fuel cycle, Research and Development Budget is going to universities. So, I mean, that's like a big flip from not wanting to give in until now, 20 percent of your funding is going to universities. And that's important. Most of the money goes to the National Laboratories to work on the big problems of nuclear waste storage and so forth. But you need to have university professors and students working on new ideas. You know, turn them loose and let them dream and pursue blue-sky research, because you don't know what major revolution they may start up; what major breakthrough. And so that was the point of that whole story, to try to get more money going to universities to promote students and new ideas.

Jennie Patrick

Chemical engineer Jennie R. Patrick was born in Gadsden, Alabama on January 1, 1949. Her parents had only achieved schooling up to the sixth grade, with James working as a janitor and Elizabeth working as a maid. They encouraged Jennie and her four siblings to excel in their studies as a way to escape poverty. In 1964 Patrick attended Gadsden High School, a previously all white high school that was forced to integrate due to the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision. She graduated with honors in 1967 and then attended Tuskegee Institute until 1970, when the chemical engineering program was eliminated. Patrick transferred to the University of California at Berkeley, and received her B.S. degree in 1973. She went on to earn her Ph.D. degree in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1979.

Upon graduation, Patrick was hired in various positions in the chemical research and development industry, including General Electric, the Philip Morris Research Facility and the Rohm and Hass Company in Bristol. She was at Rohm and Haas for five years until 1993, when she became the assistant to the executive vice president at Southern Company Services in Birmingham, Alabama. Patrick also served as an adjunct professor at Rensselear Polytechnic Institute from 1980 to 1983, and at Georgia Institute of Technology from 1983 to 1987. Patrick returned to Tuskegee University in 1993 as the 3M Eminent Scholar and Professor of Chemical Engineering. In addition to her teaching duties, Patrick is developing research projects in material sciences, is actively involved in leadership roles at Tuskegee, and remains firmly committed to helping minority students find success, particularly in the fields of science and engineering. Patrick later worked as a senior consultant with Raytheon Engineers and Constructors in Birmingham and, in 2000, she founded Education & Environmental Solutions.

Patrick has received recognition from professional and academic organization, including the American Association of University Women Post-doctoral Fellowship, the National Fellowship Foundation Scholarship, the Outstanding Women in Science and Engineering Award. In 1983, she was featured in the “Exceptional Black Scientist” poster series by CIBA-GEIGY Corp.

Patrick works and lives in Peachtree, Georgia with Dr. Yaw D. Yeboah, her husband fellow MIT alum.

Jennie R. Patrick was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on December 14, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.210

Sex

Female

Interview Date

12/14/2012

Last Name

Patrick

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

James L. Cain Elementary School

Carver High School

Gadsden High School

Tuskegee University

University of California, Berkeley

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Jennie

Birth City, State, Country

Gadsen

HM ID

PAT08

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Alabama

Favorite Vacation Destination

San Francisco, California

Favorite Quote

You Know What I Mean.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Georgia

Birth Date

1/1/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Atlanta

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cake (Coconut)

Short Description

Chemical engineer Jennie Patrick (1949 - ) became the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in chemical engineering when she completed graduate studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1979.

Employment

Environmental Wellness Institute

Raytheon Engineers & Constructors

Tuskegee University

Southern Company Services

Rohm and Haas Company

Philip Morris Research Center

General Electric Company

Favorite Color

Black

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Jennie Patrick's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Jennie Patrick lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Jennie Patrick describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Jennie Patrick describes her father's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Jennie Patrick describes how her parents met

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Jennie Patrick describes her parents' personalities

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Jennie Patrick describes her siblings

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Jennie Patrick describes her earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Jennie Patrick talks about her upbringing in Gadsden, Alabama

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Jennie Patrick describes the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up in Gadsden, Alabama

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Jennie Patrick talks about her interests as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Jennie Patrick talks about her church and its influence

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Jennie Patrick describes her close relationship with her father

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Jennie Patrick talks about television in her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Jennie Patrick talks about her curiosity as a child

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Jennie Patrick talks about attending James L. Cain Elementary School

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Jennie Patrick talks about her education at Carver High School

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Jennie Patrick talks about her determination to succeed academically

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Jennie Patrick describes the integration of schools in Gadsden, Alabama

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Jennie Patrick describes the reactions of teachers at Gadsden High School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Jennie Patrick describes being discriminated against despite her achievements

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Jennie Patrick describes the lack of support from civil rights organizations, following her enrollment in a recently integrated school

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Jennie Patrick describes her second year at Gadsden High School

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Jennie Patrick talks about her graduation and her college application process

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Jennie Patrick describes her time at Tuskegee University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Jennie Patrick describes her time at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Jennie Patrick describes her senior design project and how it was sabotaged by fellow students

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Jennie Patrick describes her experience in Advanced Engineering Mathematics at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Jennie Patrick notes the low number of African Americans at the University of California, Berkeley in the 1960s

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Jennie Patrick reflects upon her experience at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Jennie Patrick describes her encounter with Dr. John Prausitz

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Jennie Patrick reflects upon the challenges of her educational experiences

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Jennie Patrick describes her doctoral research on superheated liquid temperature limits

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Jennie Patrick talks about graduating from MIT with her Ph.D. degree, and her relationship with her advisor

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Jennie Patrick talks about her relationship with her Ph.D. advisor, Robert C. Reid

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Jennie Patrick talks about her work at General Electric

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Jennie Patrick talks about her work at Philip Morris

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Jennie Patrick talks about her move to Rohm and Haas

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Jennie Patrick describes her work at Rohm and Haas

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Jennie Patrick talks about her work at Southern Company Services

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Jennie Patrick talks about her departure from Southern Company Services

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Jennie Patrick talks about her time at Tuskegee University

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Jennie Patrick reflects upon her impressions of black males at Tuskegee University

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Jennie Patrick talks about her time at Raytheon Engineers and Contractors

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Jennie Patrick talks about her illness

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Jennie Patrick talks about the chemical industry and Environmental Wellness Institute

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Jennie Patrick talks about the risks associated with chemical engineering

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Jennie Patrick reflects upon her career

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Jennie Patrick describes the making of scented products

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Jennie Patrick discusses the harmful nature of room fresheners

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Jennie Patrick talks about her legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Jennie Patrick talks about her family

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Jennie Patrick talks about how she would like to help others

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Jennie Patrick talks about how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Jennie Patrick describes her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$6

DAStory

5$2

DATitle
Jennie Patrick describes her time at the University of California, Berkeley
Jennie Patrick talks about graduating from MIT with her Ph.D. degree, and her relationship with her advisor
Transcript
Okay, so 1970, so you no longer had access to the scholarship to go to Berkeley, so--$$So that was a challenge. So I worked a year and saved every penny trying to go to Berkley [U-C Berkley], had enough money to survive about a half a year once I got there. And it was a tremendous hardship. And I didn't have any real support. I met a black professor named Dr. Harry Morrison. I took physics from him, and I was the only black kid in this large auditorium. And one day, he smiled at me. And I thought, oh, my goodness, the professor smiled at me. And so I was reluctant to just, you know, go down and say something to him because I didn't know whether or it would embarrass him or not. But I did. I took, you know, got the courage, and I went down and told him I wanted to say hello. And we started talking, and, you know, he asked me how was I doing. And at that time, I was really struggling financially, really had difficulty feeding myself 'cause I didn't have, you know, enough funds. So I would cut back on the quantity of food that I ate. And I explained to him what was happening. And he took upon, you know, upon himself to go to the financial aid office and secured me a grant, told them that I was an excellent student and there was no reason that the school couldn't find some way of financially helping me. So he really was very, you know, very important in my survival there at Berkley. Later on, it allowed he to house sit for him a couple of semesters which allowed , you know, me not to have the cost of living for that time period.$$Okay, so he was, I think I've heard him mentioned by others at Berkley that we've interviewed as being one of the brightest people they've ever met.$$Oh, yes, very, very bright, very humble, just a wonderful spirit, yes.$$I think one said he was the smartest man he had ever met.$$I think he had a PhD in both mathematics and physics if I'm not mistaken.$$Was he the first physics professor at Berkley, black, you know, physics professor?$$May have been, I mean easily could have been. I'm not totally certain of that.$$Yeah, I'm pretty sure he's the one. Now, did you ever meet Robert Bragg. He was a material scientist.$$Yes, I did.$$Okay.$$Yes, yes, I did.$$Yeah, okay.$$Don't know a lot about him. Berkeley was such an intense period of my life, had very little time to do anything other than study. I was the first black undergraduate student they had had in ten years. I was the only American female in the chemical engineering department at that time. They had three oriental students, female students. It was a challenging environment. Students were hostile, and so were many of the professors, really felt that I did not belong there.$$Was Bill Lester there then?$$Bill Lester was there. He was, I think associated with Lawrence Livermore, I think.$$Yeah.$$So he wasn't someone that I knew at that time.$$Okay, just wondered. So, but from what I've read, there's an interview that we had in the packet where you were asked about your experiences at Berkeley, and they seem to be pretty bad. They almost sound like high school.$$It was pretty bad. It was pretty awful. Yeah, Berkeley was a challenge. My senior year, we had to do design projects, and you usually work in teams of four people. And during the session that we were beginning to separate into teams, I sat in the room waiting for someone to join me and be on my team. And nobody would join me. And so I raised my hand, and the professor's name was Mr. Blue. I don't remember his first name, but I'll always remember his last name because he gave me the blues. But he, you know, was extremely bigoted. And I raised up my hand, and I said to him, nobody's on my team. And he looked at me, he says, "So what? You don't belong here anyway." And it shocked me. And I said, but this is a, you know, a project for a team. He says, "Well, you do the best you can as your team." And so here I am left with doing all this work that three other people should have been doing, by myself; horrendous experience. The teaching assistant was a Hispanic guy from some foreign country. I don't recall where. And he said to me, he says, I'm so saddened by what's, what I heard in the class. He says, I'll help you as much as I can, but I can't work on the project with you. And so I said, I'll do the best I can. I worked night and day, night and day, very, very little sleep. Towards the end of the project, I had gone to the campus early one morning, and again, this is before the days of the computers, so we had these huge Wang calculators that sat in a calculation room, they called it. And I'm sitting there, and I had been there since early morning, typing away, putting my little data there. And I was interrupted by these guys.$Okay, so after your PhD, now was there, did you, was there anything special about your graduation, getting your PhD--I know it is special in the first place. You were the first black woman to achieve a PhD in Chemical Engineering in the country.$$Yes, that is correct.$$So this is a big deal, and was that noted during that time?$$Yes, MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology] was the first university, I think it was in 1888, that started chemical engineering. And schools like MIT, Berkeley, Wisconsin had a lot of the history and old timers who had passed the history on. When I finished my PhD at MIT, my advisor was the person who told me that, Jennie, you are the first African American to obtain a PhD in Chemical Engineering, African American female, to obtain a PhD in Chemical Engineering.$$Now, this is 1979, right?$$Nineteen-seventy nine [1979].$$Okay, so 1979, this is the last year of the Carter [President Jimmy Carter] administration. The, I think the Iran hostage crisis takes place that--$$Yes.$$--same year. So, now, were you hired (unclear) (simultaneous)--$$Yeah, I had lots of offers. I was really surprised. Every place I interviewed, I got an offer. My advisor and I often sort of bumped heads. Very, he was a very strong personality, somewhat mischief, somewhat of a prankster, a brilliant man, tremendous teacher, tremendous teacher, loved teaching. I was somewhat suspicious because I, you know, I thought that maybe he would give me the best recommendation because of some of the encounters (laughter) that we had.$$You know, he was also a good friend of the--$$Yes, yes--$$--professor from Berkeley that--$$--but to my shock, he did the reverse. I had interviewed for a position as a professor, and this professor asked me, he said, you know, you got such a--he says, he asked me what was the relationship like with my advisor. And I was suspicious when he asked that, and I said, "Why do you ask?" He says, well, I've never seen a recommendation like this one. And so immediately, I thought, "Oh, my gracious. He gave me a bad recommendation." And I said, so he said bad things about me, is that the case? He says, you thought he would say bad things about you? He says, no, to the contrary. He has you walking on water. I said, "Excuse me?" He said, I've never seen a recommendation like this. He says, I'm surprised that you thought he may give you a bad one. I said, we had conflict. He said, well, obviously, that conflict made him have enormous respect for you. And he says, for him, knowing who he is, to write a recommendation, says, you're pretty special. So I was pleased, of course, but shocked.$$Now, what was your biggest conflict over, if you recall?$$Lots of things, lots of things. He seemed to have wanted to just continue to add work, additional work to me, not always very helpful. So I was pretty much on my own, seemed to just, wanted to challenge me. And if I was going to succeed, it would be because of me and no one else. And that was the way it ended up. And so at the end of the dissertation, when I defended it--you normally present your dissertation and the room is filled with the professors. And they send you out after you present your information and they debate. Sometimes, it'll be a matter of minutes if they feel very good about you, half hour, hour. When it hits an hour, you're really probably in trouble. And after 15 minutes for me, they came back out and said, "Congratulations". And that was rather surprising to me 'cause it took a short time. And my advisor, I noticed he got to the end of the line, and I wondered why was he doing that. So he walked to the end of the line, and everybody had walked out of the room, and he looked at me, and he says, "You know, you're a tough cookie" (laughter), and I'm looking at the man. He says, you're one of the strongest people I've ever met. Congratulations, you won this war.$$That's an interesting comment, isn't it?$$Yes.$$So I can see why you might have suspected that--$$Yeah, you won this war. That was profound to me.$$Interesting.$$What were the backgrounds of these men? I mean did they share a similar background or did you ever--I mean I don't know if you had the opportunity to--(simultaneous)$$No, I think, I think chemical engineering traditionally was very, very conservative. Traditionally, it was a white male discipline. And since it started at a place like MIT [Massachusetts Institute of Technology], it had a lot of elitism associated with it. And so I was pretty much out of place when you think about it, in every sense of the word. I was neither male nor white. And--$$I wouldn't (unclear) be surprised if they had that much energy that--we hear often from people in the sciences that once they can get to the MIT level or that people don't really think about that--$$Well, MIT, in general, was a very good place for me. It did, the hostility was nowhere near the hostility at Berkeley [University of California, Berkeley]. MIT had a lot more black people by the nature of the school in science and engineering, had a lot more women. And so I loved the environment. I loved, I thrived on the intellectual challenge there. I thrived on meeting people with such brilliant minds. So for me, it was a great environment. The hostility was not as blatant as it had been at Berkeley. There were still lots of problems, don't get me wrong. But I never had, you know, really ugly confrontations with professors.