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Camellia Moses Okpodu

Research director and STEM educator Camellia Moses Okpodu was born on January 24, 1964 in Portsmouth, Virginia. Okpodu was the fourth of five children born to Frank Moses, a retired U.S. Navy veteran, and Luerevia Fullwood Moses. She graduated from West Brunswick High School in 1982, and then enrolled at North Carolina State University where she received her B.S. degree in biochemistry in 1987, and her Ph.D. degree in plant physiology and biochemistry in 1994. Upon graduation, Okpodu was awarded a postdoctoral research fellowship in plant molecular biology at the Virginia Institute of Technology. She also received certificates in Documentation and Record Keeping from the BioPharma Institute Program, in Forensic DNA Databases and Courtroom Consideration from the National Institute of Justice via the Forensics Training Network, and in Hazardous Communication from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In 1996, Okpodu joined the faculty at Hampton University as an assistant professor in the department of biology. While there, she served as program director and principal investigator for Project O.A.K. from 1992 to 2002, and as chair of the department of biology from 1999 to 2000. In 2002, Okpodu left Hampton and joined the faculty at Elizabeth City State University where she was appointed to an endowed professorship and served for one year as the chair of the biology department. She then moved to Norfolk State University in 2003 where she was named professor and chair of the biology department. She also served as the director of the National Institutes of Health Extramural Research Office, director of the Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence, and as director of the Group for Microgravity and Environmental Biology (formerly, the Center of Microgravity and Environmental Biology).

Okpodu is a member of the Sigma Xi, Beta Kappa Chi, and the American Society of Plant Biology. Okpodu served as a reviewer for the Journal of Applied Phycology, and has published her research in the Journal of Plant Physiology and the Journal of Plant Science. Her academic and professional awards include the Gordon Research Conference Travel Award, the Intelligence Community Faculty Scholar Award, and both the Award of Recognition and the Special Recognition of Merit Award from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. In addition, she served as a National Institutes of Health Genome Fellow in 2006, an Extramural Research Associate Fellow in 2006, and as an American Council on Education Fellow in 2007.

Camellia Moses Okpodu was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on June 20, 2013.

Accession Number

A2013.151

Sex

Female

Interview Date

6/20/2013

Last Name

Okpodu

Maker Category
Marital Status

Divorced

Middle Name

Moses

Schools

North Carolina State University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Camellia

Birth City, State, Country

Portsmouth

HM ID

OKP01

Favorite Season

Spring

State

Virginia

Favorite Vacation Destination

Holden Beach, North Carolina

Favorite Quote

I don't need nobody to get me nothin'. Just open the door and I'll get it myself. - James Brown

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Virginia

Birth Date

1/2/1964

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Hampton

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Asparagus

Short Description

Molecular biologist and plant biochemist Camellia Moses Okpodu (1964 - ) former chair of the Norfolk State University Biology Department, was the first Marshall Rauch Distinguished Professor at Elizabeth City University and the second director of the Norfolk State University’s Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence.

Employment

Norfolk State University

Elizabeth City State University

Hampton University

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Camellia Okpodu's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Camellia Okpodu lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Camellia Okpodu describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Camellia Okpodu describes her research on the Emancipation Oak pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Camellia Okpodu describes her research on the Emancipation Oak pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Camellia Okpodu talks about her mother's side of the family

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Camellia Okpodu talks about her mother

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Camellia Okpodu describes her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Camellia Okpodu talks about her parents

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Camellia Okpodu describes her likeness to her parents

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Camellia Okpodu talks about her siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Camellia Okpodu describes being raised by her uncle and aunt

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Camellia Okpodu describes the leaf collection that she submitted for a 4-H competition

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Camellia Okpodu describes the sights, sounds and smells of her childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Camellia Okpodu talks about Wilmington, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Camellia Okpodu talks about grade school

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Camellia Okpodu talks about her extracurricular activities in school

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Camellia Okpodu talks about her uncle Legrand incorporating North Myrtle Beach

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Camellia Okpodu describes her decision to attend North Carolina State University

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Camellia Okpodu describes becoming Miss Brunswick County

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Camellia Okpodu describes her time at North Carolina State University

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Camellia Okpodu describes why she became interested in biochemistry

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Camellia Okpodu talks about sports at North Carolina State University

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Camellia Okpodu describes her time in graduate school at North Carolina State University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Camellia Okpodu talks about Arlene Maclin, Esther Terry, and Roseanne Runte

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Camellia Okpodu describes her doctoral dissertation

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Camellia Okpodu talks about her doing her postdoctoral work at Virginia Polytechnic and State University

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Camellia Okpodu describes her time as professor at Hampton University

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Camellia Okpodu describes her projects at Hampton University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Camellia Okpodu talks about her books

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Camellia Okpodu talks about Dr. Douglas Depriest

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Camellia Okpodu describes her transition from Hampton University to Norfolk State University

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Camellia Okpodu describes her time as chair of a department at Norfolk State University

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Camellia Okpodu talks about photosynthesis

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Camellia Okpodu talks about her work with undergraduate research pt. 1

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Camellia Okpodu talks about her work with undergraduate research pt. 2

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Camellia Okpodu describes her time as the director of the Office of Extramural Research

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Camellia Okpodu talks about genetically modified food

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Camellia Okpodu talks about the Dozoretz National Institute for Mathematics and Applied Sciences

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Camellia Okpodu talks about the Mid-Atlantic Consortium-Center for Academic Excellence

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Camellia Okpodu reflects on her career

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Camellia Okpodu talks about her concerns for parents and the next generation

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Camellia Okpodu reflects on her legacy

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Camellia Okpodu talks about her family

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Camellia Okpodu talks about how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Camellia Okpodu describes her photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

4$5

DAStory

5$6

DATitle
Camellia Okpodu describes her projects at Hampton University
Camellia Okpodu describes her time as the director of the Office of Extramural Research
Transcript
You're writing proposals there at Hampton [University, Hampton, Virginia]--$$Yes.$$--and for--what were some of the projects you were trying to fund?$$Well, I wrote a proposal to NASA [National Aeronautics and Space Administration] to fund my research in the microgravity research that I was doing, I wrote a proposal for my, National Science Foundation [NSF] for a Research Experience for Undergraduates [REU], I wrote one to NIH [National Institute of Health] as part of the MARC [Minority Access to Research Careers] proposal which was part of a larger group of proposals that we all wrote which we considered AREA Grant [National Institute of Health's Academic Research Enhancement Award], I participated in the writing of an ANPS, Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority in Science, so I was actively involved in a number of those proposals.$$Okay. Tell us a little bit about microgravity, now that's just something that NASA is interested in, right?$$Yeah.$$(Unclear) What happens to plants in low gravity situations, right$$Right, well I'm no longer doing that research but one of the things we know that plants have responsive genes that turn on a response to changes in gravitational pull, so right now you can take a--you've probably done this. You grow a plant, if you look at the plant on the side, you know--if you've probably seen this, and then plant will grow towards--grow up, so how does a plant know that's up? So we looked for genes that we could disrupt because those are gravity sensing genes, and we looked for that and that's what I was trying to do at Hampton. I designed something I called The Modular Plant, Plant Module PM--MPM; I never got to drop it in the drop tower, and what we were trying to do was look at those early events of development. What I had found over the years with the inositol enzymes is that those enzymes got turned on very early in, in development. So anytime you're sensing the change, they return normal within--actually within seconds, which--at the time when we were telling people this, they didn't believe it to be true, and then Dr. Bolson, along with others, have shown that this is really--a change in the transcript level occurs very quickly. So I--my question is what happens very early in microgravity? And so I had developed a way to study this; unfortunately, I never got a chance to do it, I left Hampton, went to Elizabeth City State [University, Elizabeth City, North California], by the time I got the thing in place--my contract moved to Elizabeth City State, I--the person I was working with at NASA retired or left, and so I was never able to fulfill that research but I did design the module and my understanding is that it works, so I did do that, and that's one of the things that was very successful.$$Tell us a little bit more about this module. I had a note about it here but what was it (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous)--I designed it in such a way that as it dropped through the tower, that you could actually slowly or quickly freeze the material so by the time it got to the end of the tower which was a thirty second drop, that you could take lapse times, so I had it designed where you could--it would kill plants after one second, it would kill some of the--it'll freeze other plants after five seconds, and so forth and so on. So you could do what we call a dose response. So you could look at--isolate the tissue and see what happened early on the first second of dropping and see what we call subtractive DNA analysis to see if there was any genes turned on or off as a result, as you would do the gravitational but I never got a chance to do it. So the thing is created, we showed it work, I never got to do the experiments.$$Did you ever get a chance to see the results of how it worked?$$Yeah, I got to do it, I just never got to do the experiments.$$Okay, all right.$$It worked. We designed it and it worked, we built it but I never got to--'cause the person I was working with got changed to a different mission and then NASA Glenn [Center for Research, Cleveland, Ohio] was not doing the drop tower research anymore.$$Okay. Now what was Project Oak at Hampton?$$That was the REU (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous)--That was the--$$(Simultaneous)--That was the Research Experience for Undergraduates.$$Okay.$$I named it Project Oak, Opportunity Alliance Network, after the fact that I was bringing students in--college students from all over the country, to come to an HBCU, spend eight weeks with us and do research centered around the Emancipation Oak that's a live--living laboratory. So we did pathology, we isolated whatever pathogen was from the leaves. We did micro-- molecular biology where did the isolation of DNA from both prepared and herbarium stored samples and we did some biochemistry in analyzing the different types of iso-enzymes that were seen in the leaves in response to different stresses. So it was just simply using the Emancipation Oak as the foundational research project for our--what we were doing.$In 2007, you were director of the NIH [National Institute of Health] Extramural Research Office [sic, Office of Extramural Research, OER] here. What did that entail?$$So when I became a department chair, I realized that part of the problem was--I did a survey and people weren't writing proposals, and it's because I learned about Vroom's expectancy theory. You're like, "What, you're a biochemist, what do you know about all this sociology work?" So Vroom's idea is to change an organization there's some intrinsic things that people come with that you're not gonna be able to do, you know? If I'm a runner, I'm wired to be a runner and--but there are some things that you can manage that's an expectation. So most of us are intrinsically motivated but we have an expectation that you would provide me the tools by which I can have--affect my own change, and so if you want to change organizational culture or outlooks, one of the things you can do is manage expectations by providing students--people with the proper tools. So what I, what I found--my idea was--this was hypothesis-driven research that I did was trying to figure out how to get people to write proposals and most people would wanna write. I mean most people wanna write but they felt like, "You didn't give us the infrastructure or the tools." And so I developed a training program when I would train people to write proposals and then I would actually work with them and actually draft the proposals. And so one of the ones that we had the most success with is this Mid-Atlantic Consortium that we had between Morgan State [University, Baltimore, Maryland] and Norfolk State [University, Norfolk, University] and that we brought a group of people together and we sat down through the OER office and we wrote a proposal together. And then we crafted that proposal such that when we submitted it for final submission, it was one of the--it was the top proposal. We were told by the agency our proposal ranked number one out of the forty-one applications that they got. And it was because of the approach we decided. I didn't have a work shop just to be having a work shop. I had a work shop with tangible outcomes that when they left, they actually had something that they could submit. They had to massage it a little bit more, and I helped them in the process. But--so that was what the OER office did. We were a research development office. And I did that up until last year where I found that it was just a little bit too much--too difficult. In managing that, I micromanaged a lot. I don't do well in micromanaging. I figure that you tell me what it is you do and I can manage my own expectations, so that was--I just decided that I couldn't be effective at doing it so I'm no longer doing that. I still help people. The other day, somebody called me and said "Can you help me write this proposal?" I helped 'em write it because in the end run, the long run, you want people to be able to get tenure. The other thing I saw is that a lot of the young women, I thought, were not getting tenure. I don't know the reason why they were leaving, but I know part of it was they weren't getting it because they didn't have funded projects. And so I opened up the competition for anyone who wanted to apply. I helped-- helped anyone, but a lot of the young women I guess came because they saw me, and I guess for some reason I was--that translated to them. I helped anyone who wanted to be helped however, but a number of them were successful in getting funded projects and were able to get tenure, and I think it was directly related to that early grant; because if they hadn't been there, the process--even though we have an officer-sponsored program, it's not an easy process to get through. So I kinda helped them get through the process and get a final project that they could submit. Yep.

George Langford

Biologist and academic administrator George M. Langford was born on August 26, 1944 in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina to Lillie and Maynard Langford. Langford excelled at math in high school and was fascinated by the shapes and structures found under the microscope. He studied biology at Fayetteville State University earning his B.S. degree in 1966. Despite the lack of laboratory facilities, Langford had good mentors who persuaded him to attend graduate school. He earned his M.S. degree in 1969 and his Ph.D. degree in 1971, both in cell biology from the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). He finished his postdoctoral training in 1973 from the cell biology program at the University of Pennsylvania as a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Fellow.

In 1973, Langford joined the faculty of the University of Massachusetts as a professor of cell biology and conducted research at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Massachusetts in 1976. He continued his career in academia, teaching at Howard University in 1977 and joining the faculty of University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1979. He was promoted to a full professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1988. Langford’s research focused on the nerves of invertebrates as well as cellular motility. He was honored with an appointment to the National Science Foundation (NSF) where he served as director of cell biology from 1988 to 1989. In 1991, Langford joined the faculty of Dartmouth College as the Ernest Everett Just Professor of Natural Sciences and a professor of biological sciences where he remained until 2005. Between 2005 and 2008, Langford was employed at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst as dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and Distinguished Professor of Biology. In 2008, he was engaged by Syracuse University as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Langford holds memberships in many nationally prominent professional societies including the American Society for Cell Biology, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Corporation of the Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA and the Society of Sigma Xi. He served on the National Science Board (NSB) from 1998 to 2004, where he served as chair of the Education and Human Resources Committee and the Vannevar Bush Award Committee. Langford has been recognized numerous times for his work including the Illinois Institute of Technology Professional Achievement Award and the American Society for Cell Biology Ernest Everett Just Lectureship Award. Langford received an honorary Doctorate from Beloit College in 2003. He is married to Sylvia Langford and they have three children.

George Langford was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on August 6, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.165

Sex

Male

Interview Date

8/6/2012

Last Name

Langford

Middle Name

Malcolm

Schools

Potecasi Graded School

W.S. Creecy High School

Fayetteville State University

Illinois Institute of Technology

University of Pennsylvania

Beloit College

Woodland Elementary

First Name

George

Birth City, State, Country

Halifax

HM ID

LAN08

Favorite Season

Christmas

State

North Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Favorite Quote

C'est la vie.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Birth Date

8/26/1944

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Syracuse

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Apples

Short Description

Cell biologist and academic administrator George Langford (1944 - ) is an expert on cell motility and served as a dean at University of Massachusetts, Amherst and Syracuse University

Employment

Syracuse University

University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Dartmouth College

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Howard University

University of Massachusetts, Boston

University of Pennsylvania

National Science Foundation (NSF)

Marine Biological Laboratory

Argonne National Laboratory

Favorite Color

Red

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of George Langford's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - George Langford lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - George Langford describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - George Langford talks about his maternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - George Langford talks about his mother's growing up in Potecasi, North Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - George Langford describes his mother's remarkable skills as a farmer and a homemaker

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - George Langford describes his father's family background - part one

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - George Langford describes his father's family background - part two

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - George Langford talks about his father attending high school, and his paternal family's reputation as merchants and tradespeople

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - George Langford discusses the history and demographics of Potecasi, North Carolina, and talks about Nat Turner and the slave revolt of 1831

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - George Langford describes the segregated town of Potecasi, North Carolina, while he was growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - George Langford talks about his father's family receiving an education

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - George Langford talks about his parents getting married in the early 1920s

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - George Langford talks about segregation in North Carolina, and his father's role in mediating peace during inter-racial conflicts

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - George Langford describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - George Langford talks about his siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - George Langford describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - George Langford describes his childhood memories on his family's farm in Potecasi, North Carolina, and talks about the home where he grew up

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - George Langford describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up in Potecasi, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - George Langford describes his experience as the youngest of nine children

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - George Langford describes his interests while growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 12 - George Langford talks about his father's physical strength and his long life

Tape: 2 Story: 13 - George Langford talks about his access to African American magazines and newspapers while growing up in Potecasi, North Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 14 - George Langford talks about all the schools that he attended, and describes his elementary school experience at Potecasi Graded School

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - George Langford describes his experience in elementary school

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - George Langford talks about the high elementary school drop-out rate while he was in school

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - George Langford describes his involvement in Church as a child, and his recollections of the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - George Langford describes his experience during segregation in Potecasi, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - George Langford describes his experience at W.S. Creecy High School, his interest in science, and the mentorship that he received from his teachers

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - George Langford talks about his interest in the physical sciences and his decision to major in biology in college

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - George Langford talks about his academic performance and his involvement in extracurricular activities at W.S. Creecy High School

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - George Langford talks about his mentors at W.S. Creecy High School, and his decision to pursue a college education at Fayetteville State University

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - George Langford describes his experience at Fayetteville State University

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - George Langford talks about his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - George Langford describes how the student government at Fayetteville State University facilitated the integration of Fayetteville in the 1960s-part one

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - George Langford describes how the student government at Fayetteville State University facilitated the integration of Fayetteville in the 1960s-part two

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - George Langford talks about his mentors, Joseph Knuckles and F. Roy Hunter, at Fayetteville State University

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - George Langford describes the strong liberal arts and education programs at Fayetteville State University, and his involvement in music while there

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - George Langford describes his first winter in Chicago, and talks about the blizzard of 1967

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - George Langford talks about his experience in Chicago, and how he met his wife, Sylvia

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - George Langford talks about his doctoral advisor, William Danforth

Tape: 4 Story: 10 - George Langford talks about his interest in cell biology, and his mentors, Teru Hayashi and Jean Clark Dan, at the Illinois Institute of Technology

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - George Langford talks about the unrest in Chicago, following Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination in 1968

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - George Langford talks about other black students at the Illinois Institute of Technology while he was a student there in the late 1960s and early 1970s

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - George Langford describes his Ph.D. dissertation on the growth of the unicellular protozoa of genus Euglena, in the absence of oxygen

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - George Langford talks about the role of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB) in shaping his research career

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - George Langford describes his introduction to cell biology and live-cell imaging, and his experience at the University of Pennsylvania

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - George Langford describes his postdoctoral studies on the mechanism of motility in Pyrsonympha, the native protozoa found in termite guts

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - George Langford talks about his experience at the University of Massachusetts in Boston and his reasons for leaving there

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - George Langford describes his rich scientific experience at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), and its influence on his research career

Tape: 5 Story: 9 - George Langford talks about the life of Ernest Everett Just, his pioneering science, and his tenure at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory

Tape: 5 Story: 10 - George Langford talks about the similarities between his scientific career and that of Ernest Everett Just

Tape: 5 Story: 11 - George Langford describes being an African American researcher at the University of Pennsylvania in the 1970s, and current racial trends in science

Tape: 5 Story: 12 - George Langford talks about his appointment at Howard University and his subsequent transition to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - George Langford describes the racial challenges at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - George Langford talks about segregation at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the surrounding community in the 1980s

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - George Langford describes his experience as the chairman of the Minority Affairs Committee of the American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB)

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - George Langford describes his experience as the director of the cell biology program at the National Science Foundation (NSF)

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - George Langford talks about his appointment as the Ernest Everett Just Professor of Natural Sciences at Dartmouth College in 1991

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - George Langford describes the liberal arts style of education at Dartmouth College

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - George Langford describes his efforts to increase the retention of African American students in science at Dartmouth College

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - George Langford talks about the field of social science, and his efforts to educate his colleagues and students about the concept of "white privilege"

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - George Langford describes his groundbreaking discovery of actin-dependent organelle movement in squid axoplasm

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - George Langford talks about biologist, Robert D. Allen

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - George Langford describes the implications of his discovery of actin-dependent organelle movement in squid axoplasm

Tape: 6 Story: 12 - George Langford describes his service on the National Science Board, and talks about atmospheric scientist, Warren Washington

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - George Langford talks about his service on the National Science Board's National Workforce Task Force Sub-Committee in 1999

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - George Langford describes his service as the dean of the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics at the University of Massachusetts

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - George Langford describes his service as the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Syracuse University

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - George Langford describes his current research on yeast toxins and the collaboration between science and humanities at Syracuse University

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - George Langford shares his perspectives on how modern technology affects education

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - George Langford describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - George Langford reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 8 - George Langford reflects upon his choices and shares his advice to young students who want to pursue studies in the STEM fields

Tape: 7 Story: 9 - George Langford talks about his family

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - George Langford talks about his exposure to the liberal arts and humanities at Dartmouth College

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - George Langford talks about how he would like to be remembered

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$7

DAStory

8$1

DATitle
George Langford describes his rich scientific experience at the Woods Hole Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), and its influence on his research career
George Langford talks about his service on the National Science Board's National Workforce Task Force Sub-Committee in 1999
Transcript
So, it was while you were there [University of Massachusetts in Boston] that you took advantage of the Marine Biological Laboratory [MBL] at Woods Hole [Massachusetts].$$That's right, that's right. I began going to the Marine Biological Laboratory in '72 [1972] when I was at Penn [University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]. And then I continued going for the time that I was at the University of Massachusetts in Boston.$$Okay. Well, tell us the significance of this place. And then there's another, there's a figure in the history of black science that spent a lot of time there, Dr. Ernest Everett Just [pioneering African American embryologist who studied the early development of marine invertebrates].$$Right.$$I think you've discussed him in lectures and that sort of thing, so--$$Right. Yes, so the Marine Biological Laboratory became one of the most important institutions in my development as a scientist. I went there while I was a post-doc at Penn because my, post-doc mentor Shinya Inoue always moved his laboratory there in the summers. And I went there to take the physiology course, and this was one of those amazing experiences. It's a total emersion course. It teaches you really the fine points of research science, and you're learning it from the best people in the discipline. So it's a great place, it's very student-oriented. Faculty members who come there do it because they love to do it. They are accessible in ways that they're not when they're at the home institution. And it creates this atmosphere of openness and really strong support. So, you develop, you know, an excellent network of individuals to work with as a result of being there. So, I went there in '72 [1972] for the physiology course, and I went back in '74 [1974] for the neurobiology course. And then I began to go as an independent scientist. I served as an MBL Steps [ph.] Fellow, a Macy--Josiah Macy Fellow, working in the laboratory of other scientists as I was developing my own research program, and then began to go there as an independent investigator. So, it's really, it's a unique place. If you've never been there it's really worth a visit because there's just none other place like it. So, for my own advisor, you know, because of the stress of all of the things he had to do when he was at the university, it was very hard to get in to talk to him. But in Woods Hole, it was easy, you know. You had, you could sit out on a bench by the water and talk at lunch. You could go--you know, you could spend time in the evenings working together. So, people were just accessible, and it was a wonderful learning experience. Because as I said before, you remember--I, you know, research science was all new to me, and it takes a long time to really develop a strong network and to understand just how to move a science project forward. So, I depended a great deal on the network of friends that I developed at the Marine Biological Laboratory.$[In] '99 [1999], you served as vice chair of the National Science--, I'm sorry, the National Science Board's National Workforce Task Force Sub-Committee.$$Right, right.$$What is that, now?$$So, the chair of the board at the time, Eamon (ph., unclear) [M. Kelly], wanted to address this issue of the lack of students going into the sciences. And so, he put together a task force of the board to really look at this issue. And so, for a year we actually studied the trends for students going into the sciences. And, you know, it was really frightening what we observed, you know. The data showed that we were still under-producing students in the sciences. We were doing better in the biological sciences but the numbers were very, very, small in physics and they were pretty miserable in chemistry and really bad in engineering. And so, the board put together a strong set of recommendations on how we could increase the number of students, the domestic students, who were majoring in the sciences. This is an ongoing problem, we haven't solved it. But the board was really on top of it way back there in '98 [1998], '99 [1999] to try to address that issue.$$Okay, okay. Now in 2000 you were nominated by President [Bill] Clinton for a second six-year term on the National Science Board, and you then subsequently served in 2002, you served as chair of the National Science Board Education and Human Resources Committee.$$Right, right. So, the board had several standing committees. And one of the standing committees was the Committee on the Education and Human Resources Directive. And so, this was a very important assignment as well, because this was the committee that oversaw all of the program activities at the NSF [National Science Foundation] that were designed to increase the pipeline. You know, programs that were designed to increase the quality of training in the public schools in K-12 [kindergarten through twelfth grade] as well as curriculum changes within the universities. And so, this, the committee was in charge of oversight of all of those grant programs.$$Okay. How closely did you work with Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson? You know, she was in charge of the science committee.$$That's right, yes. I got to attend several workshops that she organized to deal with this question. And she was a very, very strong supporter of the National Science Foundation and the programs that it had designed to increase students in the sciences. So, she was considered one of our strongest champions on the [Capitol] Hill.$$Okay.

The Honorable Kurt Schmoke

Mayor, city attorney, and academic administrator Hon. Kurt L. Schmoke was born on December 1, 1949 in Baltimore, Maryland, the only child of Irene and Murray Schmoke. College-educated, Murray Schmoke was a chemist while Irene was a social worker. Schmoke attended Baltimore City College, a public high school, where he was the quarterback of the school’s state champion football team. Schmoke’s parents and pastor, Marion Bascom of the Douglas Memorial Community Church, encouraged his academic career. Schmoke was also mentored by Baltimore Judge Robert Hammerman, who asked him to join the Lancers Boys Club, a youth organization that Hammerman ran in his spare time.

Schmoke attended Yale University, where he continued to excel in school and athletics, and was chosen to represent the student body during the turmoil that surrounded the 1970 trial of Black Panther Bobby Seale. Schmoke graduated with his B.A. degree in history in 1971, after which he was selected for a Rhodes Scholarship. He studied at Oxford University in England for two years, traveling throughout Europe and Africa in his free time. Schmoke attended Harvard Law School, graduating with his J.D. degree in 1976. While in law school, he met and married Baltimore native and ophthalmologist Patricia Locks. The couple has two children, Gregory and Katherine.

After passing the Maryland Bar Examination, Schmoke joined the prominent law firm of Piper & Marbury, where he worked for less than two years before being recruited by the Carter Administration to work as assistant director under Stuart Eizenstat on the White House Domestic Policy Staff. Schmoke, however, decided to return to public service in Baltimore as an Assistant United States Attorney in 1978. Four years later, he successfully ran for State’s Attorney, Baltimore’s chief prosecuting officer.

In 1987, Schmoke became the first elected African American mayor of the City of Baltimore. Schmoke was re-elected to his second term with more than 70% of the vote in 1991. As mayor, Schmoke developed a reputation for his pioneering approaches to the problems of urban America. During his time in office, he instituted needle-exchange programs for drug addicts, attracted a new football team to the city and promoted citywide reading. President George Bush awarded him the 1992 National Literacy Award for his efforts to promote adult literacy. Two years later, President Bill Clinton praised his programs to improve public housing and to enhance community economic development. In 1999, Schmoke elected not to run for a fourth term and was succeeded by Martin O’Malley. From 2000 to 2002, he was a partner in the law offices of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering in Baltimore. Schmoke is the Dean of Howard University’s School of Law, a position he assumed in 2003. Schmoke is on the board of directors of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Children’s Health Forum, Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Legg Mason, Inc. and McGraw-Hill Companies.

Hon. Kurt Schmoke was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on September 25, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.271

Sex

Male

Interview Date

9/25/2007

Last Name

Schmoke

Marital Status

Married

Schools

Gwynns Falls Elementary School

Baltimore City College

Yale University

Harvard Law School

Garrison Middle School

First Name

Kurt

Birth City, State, Country

Baltimore

HM ID

SCH03

Favorite Season

All Seasons

State

Maryland

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

District of Columbia

Birth Date

12/1/1949

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Washington

Country

United States

Favorite Food

Cheesecake

Short Description

Academic administrator, city attorney, and mayor The Honorable Kurt Schmoke (1949 - ) was elected Baltimore, Maryland's first African American mayor in 1987 after serving four years as state's attorney. He served as mayor until 1998. Schmoke was Dean of the Howard University School of Law.

Employment

Howard University School of Law

Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, Bos

Baltimore (Md.). Mayor

Baltimore (Md.). State's Attorney.

United States Attorney-General

White House Domestic Policy Council (U.S.)

Piper & Marbury

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of The Honorable Kurt Schmoke's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke describes his parents' professions

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke talks about his paternal grandparents

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke recalls his early experiences of discrimination

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke describes the history of his maternal family's enslavement

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke remembers his step great-grandmother

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke describes his earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke recalls his early education

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke remembers Coach George B. Young

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke reflects upon his high school football experiences

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke recalls his aspiration to attend college

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke remembers his early interest in politics

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke talks about segregation in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke recalls his aspiration to become the mayor of Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke remembers Garrison Junior High School in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke recalls his early influences

Tape: 2 Story: 11 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke remembers travelling in the segregated South

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke remembers the March on Washington

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke talks about segregation in Hope, Arkansas

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke describes the presidential election of 1960

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke recalls the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke describes his experiences in the Lancers club

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke remembers the lectures at the Lancers club

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke recalls serving as class president at Baltimore City College in Baltimore, Maryland

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke recalls his athletic activities at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke describes his childcare center at Yale University

Tape: 3 Story: 10 - The Honorable Kurt Schmoke remembers Bobby Seale's trial in New Haven, Connecticut

DASession

1$1

DATape

3$3

DAStory

9$5

DATitle
The Honorable Kurt Schmoke describes his childcare center at Yale University
The Honorable Kurt Schmoke describes his experiences in the Lancers club
Transcript
Today, if you asked me in terms of extracurricular stuff, what was the most important thing I did at Yale [Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut], it was starting a childcare center. I, I opened, along with a couple of other undergraduates, we started a childcare center. It was for, it was designed for, to help the employees, the blue collar employees of Yale. Later on, we found that it really did help mostly the secretaries and graduate students' children, because the blue collar workers generally were older. There was a secretarial group. And, but, anyway, and we named it--got Calvin's [Calvin Hill] permission to name it after him, and so, the Calvin Hill Daycare Center/Kitty-Lustman Kindergarten [Calvin Hill Daycare Center and Kitty Lustman-Findling Kindergarten, New Haven, Connecticut] is still in operation in 2007. We started this in, in 1969. We started that daycare center and it's still in operation in New Haven [Connecticut] in a converted firehouse that used to be a little fire station that the city donated to us, and we renovated it, and now it's been built on, so it's a nice, it's really considered one of the best early childhood education centers in the State of Connecticut.$$Where did you get this idea?$$My college roommate and I were talking about some of the problems at the university one day. And he had come back from working in the dining hall. We both worked in the dining hall my freshman year, but he continued to work in the dining hall, and I did some other jobs, library assistant, all that kind of stuff. And, he was telling me this story about a lady in the dining hall who was having terrible childcare problems and that the boss, the manager of the dining hall, was just giving her a lot of grief, wouldn't cut her any slack, wouldn't let her come in a little late, wouldn't let her leave a little early and everything like that. And I said, "This is, this is just wrong. We ought to do something about this." And we went around and asked some administrators at the university, whether, "What was Yale doing about daycare?" And Yale wasn't doing anything about daycare at the time, and so we decided that we were gonna start a, a daycare center. Now, we didn't know much about daycare centers. All that we knew was that there were things called foundations out there that gave money to--and we started writing these letters. And, I, I think today about some of the letters I wrote, thinking that the longer the word, the more impressed they would be, and I got zero response from, from any foundation. But along the time that we started with the idea, Yale, by the spring of 1970, was hit with this massive demonstration in New Haven related to the trial of the Black Panthers [Black Panther Party]. And, demonstrators came in from all over the country and among the things that they needed, and this is amazing, always amazed me, the people brought little children with them to these demonstrations. So we changed our residential college for the weekend of that demonstration in May of 1970 to a daycare center, and the university, the light bulb went off and said, "We gotta do something here." And so, they agreed to match dollar for dollar, anything we could raise for the childcare center, and that's, it got going. We started it in the basement of a church, St. Thomas More church [St. Thomas More Catholic Chapel and Center, New Haven, Connecticut], and then later, in later years moved to the fire station.$$Wow, that's amazing--$$Yeah, yeah, it's still going on--$$--young men, who would think, concerned about childcare?$$Well, that was, I, listen, you, you are now talking to one of your classic nerds, I'm telling you now. So--.$$(Laughter).$How did you get to college [Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut]? I know you had some strong mentors, you mentioned Judge Hammerman [Robert I.H. Hammerman]--$$Yeah, I, someone, one of my classmates in high school [Baltimore City College, Baltimore, Maryland], my particular class that I was in, was overwhelmingly with Jewish. I was a, kind of a minority in that class, even a--I told you, we were in a huge high school, four thousand all boys, and it had various grade levels and sections, and I was in a class though that only had two blacks in it, and most of the kids were Jewish. And there was a club, a boys club [Lancers] in town that had been started by a, a juvenile court judge named Robert Hammerman. It--that club was overwhelmingly Jewish boys, and a, a decision had been made to integrate. I didn't know about this, that the decision had been made to integrate. Again, I didn't even, I didn't there, didn't know of the club's existence and I didn't realize that it had been segregated, but I was invited, along with some other guys, to, to join the club. And I just loved it because it would meet every Friday night at a local elementary school. We listened to a speaker and then we got to participate in sports. And the, and the judge was all, constantly writing to speakers all over the country, "If you're here in the D.C. [Washington, D.C.] area, could you come up to Baltimore [Maryland] and speak to this group of eighty young boys," et cetera. And we're, I mean we had congress people come in, we had supreme court judges, we had a lot of folks in Maryland, business and education leaders. I mean, and they would come in and they would talk about something at our level, for maybe twenty minutes, and then let us question them. And, most of the time, we would question them about, "Well, how'd you get where you are?" Now, every once in a while--'cause we had some really brilliant guys in there, they would get into policy debates, "You said in the following--." "I read this in an article--," and I'm sitting back there saying, you know, "Oh, my god, where'd these guys learn all this stuff?" (Laughter) So, it was (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) Do you remember some of the speakers?$$Oh, well, I mean, we had, yes, many of the Baltimore Colts--what was then the Baltimore, before Colts moved to Indianapolis [Indianapolis Colts] they were in Baltimore, so, we had a number of their players. We had a number of the, the Orioles [Baltimore Orioles], Brooks Robinson, I know, came to speak there. We had a Congressman Charles Weltner [Charles L. Weltner], who was from Georgia and he was a very interesting man. He made a lot of votes in the [U.S.] House of Representatives against his party, trying to buck the lingering segregationist ideas. And so, he was kind of, progressive Democrat from Georgia and he came up to speak.