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Hattie Carwell

Physicist Hattie Carwell was born on July 17, 1948 in Brooklyn, New York. Carwell grew up in a nurturing black community in Ashland, Virginia, which encouraged her interest in science. After graduating from high school in 1966, she enrolled at Bennett College for Women. Carwell earned her B.S. degree in chemistry from Bennett College in 1971. She went on to earn her M.S. degree in health physics from Rutgers University in 1971.

Throughout her career, Carwell has worked nationally and internationally for the U.S. Department of Energy and the International Atomic Energy Agency as a health physicist and nuclear safeguards group leader. From 1980 to 1985, she went on leave to Vienna, Austria where she served as a nuclear safeguards inspector and group leader at the International Atomic Energy Agency. In 1990, she became a program manager for high energy and nuclear programs with the DOE San Francisco Operations Office. She then became a senior facility operations engineer at the Berkeley Site Office in 1992. In 1994, Carwell was promoted to operations lead at the Berkeley Site Office, a position which she held until 2006. She became a senior physical scientist before retiring in 2008.

Carwell has written numerous research articles and two books including, Blacks in Science: Astrophysicist to Zoologist. Carwell is a Board Member of the Northern California Council of Black Professional Engineers, an organization of which she is a past President. She is treasurer for the National Council of Black Engineers and Scientists, co-founder and chair of the Development Fund for Black Students in Science and Technology, and Director of the Museum of African American Technology (MAAT) Science Village. MAAT Science Village archives information on the achievements of Africa American in science and engineering.

Carwell is the recipient of numerous performance awards from the Department of Energy, and is recognized as a community leader. She is a distinguished alumna of Bennett College and included in the Black College Hall of Fame. Her achievements are annotated in biographical

Accession Number

A2012.239

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/5/2012

Last Name

Carwell

Maker Category
Middle Name

Virginia

Schools

Bennett College for Women

Rutgers University

Search Occupation Category
First Name

Hattie

Birth City, State, Country

Brooklyn

HM ID

CAR25

Favorite Season

Spring

State

New York

Favorite Vacation Destination

Anywhere Warm

Favorite Quote

I Am Not Fattening Frogs For Snakes.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

California

Birth Date

7/17/1948

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Bay Area/Oakland

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Pie (Apple)

Short Description

Environmental scientist Hattie Carwell (1948 - ) was a health physicist for the United States Atomic Energy Commission and the International Atomic Agency.

Employment

United States Atomic Energy Commission (AEC)

Energy Research Administration

United States Department of Energy

International Atomic Energy Agency

Department of Energy Headquarters

Favorite Color

Blue

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Hattie Carwell's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Hattie Carwell lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Hattie Carwell describes her mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Hattie Carwell talks about her maternal great grandmother, Edmonia Tunstall

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Hattie Carwell talks about her family's educational background

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Hattie Carwell talks about her mother's life in New York City

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Hattie Carwell describes her father's family background

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Hattie Carwell describes her father's background and military service

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Hattie Carwell talks about her parents and siblings

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Hattie Carwell describes her parents' personalities and who she takes after

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Hattie Carwell talks about her uncle Patrick Tunstall and her adoptive grandmother

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Hattie Carwell describes her earliest childhood memories

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Hattie Carwell describes the sights, smells, and sounds of growing up

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Hattie Carwell describes her early education

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Hattie Carwell talks about Shiloh Baptist Church

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Hattie Carwell describes her mischievous nature as a child

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Hattie Carwell describes her aunt and uncle as parents

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Hattie Carwell describes her experience at John Manuel Gandy High School

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Hattie Carwell talks about the Civil Rights Movement

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Hattie Carwell talks about civil rights and the Richmond Improvement Association

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Hattie Carwell talks about her interest in news and current events

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Hattie Carwell talks about her high school interests and opportunities

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Hattie Carwell discusses her high school experiences with science

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Hattie Carwell describes her selection of Bennett College

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Hattie Carwell describes her experience at Bennett College

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Hattie Carwell describes her interest in California

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Hattie Carwell discusses her work in the field of radiation science

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Hattie Carwell talks about the Atomic Energy Commission and exposure to radiation

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Hattie Carwell talks about human radiation experiments

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Hattie Carwell describes the effects of exposure to radiation

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Hattie Carwell describe measures people take to shield themselves from radiation

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Hattie Carwell talks about her internship at Brookhaven National Laboratory

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Hattie Carwell describes her thesis

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Hattie Carwell describes working at Thomas Jefferson University

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Hattie Carwell talks about her return to Brookhaven National Laboratory

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Hattie Carwell describes her work with the Atomic Energy Commission

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Hattie Carwell talks about her transfer to California

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Hattie Carwell talks about her experience at the University of California, Berkeley

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Hattie Carwell describes her work in Vienna, Austria

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Hattie Carwell talks about her travels while working for the International Atomic Energy Agency

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Hattie Carwell talks about her work as a group leader for the International Atomic Energy Agency

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Hattie Carwell talks about her second year at the International Atomic Energy Agency

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Hattie Carwell describes her return to the United States

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Hattie Carwell describes her work in Rocky Flats, Colorado (part 1)

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Hattie Carwell describes her work in Rocky Flats, Colorado (part 2)

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Hattie Carwell talks about her work with the High Energy and Nuclear Programs

Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Hattie Carwell talks about her appointment at Lawrence-Berkeley

Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Hattie Carwell reflects on her time at the Department of Energy

Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Hattie Carwell talks about her book, 'Blacks in Science'

Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Hattie Carwell talks about Dr. Warren Henry (part 1)

Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Hattie Carwell talks about Dr. Warren Henry (part 2)

Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Hattie Carwell talks about Ernest Just

Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Hattie Carwell talks about Glenn Seaborg

Tape: 8 Story: 8 - Hattie Carwell discusses the Development Fund for Black Students in Science and Technology

Tape: 8 Story: 9 - Hattie Carwell talks about the Museum for African American Technology Science Village

Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Hattie Carwell describes exhibits in the Museum for African American Technology Science Village

Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Hattie Carwell talks about her publication exploring green technology

Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Hattie Carwell shares her hopes and concerns for the African American communiry

Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Hattie Carwell talks about her legacy

Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Hattie Carwell talks about her personal life

Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Hattie Carwell tells how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Hattie Carwell describes her photos

DASession

1$1

DATape

6$9

DAStory

5$1

DATitle
Hattie Carwell talks about her travels while working for the International Atomic Energy Agency
Hattie Carwell describes exhibits in the Museum for African American Technology Science Village
Transcript
Now, did you ever go to Russia or--$$Went, I went to Russia as a tourist. And the Russians we interacted with, Russians disappeared on the job that I had because the majority of us believed the Russians were spies. And they were just doing our job to see the different nuclear facilities. And they thought the Japanese were out to steal industrial secrets. And me, you know, I was harmless. It was only one of me, you know, I was the only black woman and for a while, the only woman. And so, you know, what harm could I do? I was a novelty. And so I was representing the United States. I had a Laissez-passer from the UN [United Nations]. Don't touch her. Don't mess with her. Even if she's in trouble, don't mess with her. And it was, you know, if you messed with me, it's an international incident. So I got lost, you know, trying to go places and I never worried about being lost until I was supposed to be where I wasn't, you know, getting directions in a foreign language that you don't completely understand. It's bad enough getting directions in a language that you do understand. People, you know, so concerned that you might get lost, they're going in the opposite direction, and they turn around, follow me, taking you to make sure you get to the point, going to little towns in Italy. The Italians will talk to you, I don't care what language you speak. And once again, I'm going to these tiny little towns, 'cause, you know, and small-town people will get in your business. And they would wonder why is she coming here once a month, staying three days and then going back? What is she doing? And this Thai--guy from Thailand and I used to go to this town an hour from Amsterdam, Almelo, next door to Hengelo. Hengelo, they have beer. And we stayed in this bread and breakfast place. And so (laughter) Mr. Gemung (ph.) Hung (ph.) said, I'll bet you they wanna know why the two of them come here (laughter), why the hell they come here to this little town (laughter), 'cause you know, they didn't know what we were doing. We would go to the university or out to a power plant. I went to, we--it was a new enrichment plant, uranium enrichment plant, experimental, that we would go to. And, you know, I, since I was a novelty, you know, there's dead time. You're counting samples and machine, and you're just sitting there waiting. So there's a lot of just small talk. And, you know, this was interesting. The plant was in the Netherlands, and the Germans ran the plant. And I forget his name, but the director of the plan would come, and at lunchtime, he'd, you know, just hang out a little bit. And he had a habit, when you asked him a question he would say, "in princeive" (ph.), you know, in principle. And when he would say that, I would always get this big smile on my face. And he didn't know why I would always smile. So he said, what's, what's, you know, what's the problem? I said, well, you know, I'm smiling because most times when people say something "in principle", whatever they're saying is not really true, that it's close to being true, but it's not really true or you really don't know if it's true. And for the nature of our work, if he's telling us, well, it's kinda like this, but it's not, and so I would just smile. And he, it was such an ingrained habit, he couldn't break it. So every time he'd ready to say something, he'd find himself, saying "in princeive". And then he would look at me and laugh.$$Okay--$$So--$Okay, so, well, tell us, what are the exhibits in the museum, and--$$Well, first of all, I have to tell you right now, we do not have a physical location. We are in search of purchasing a building. And I wish the market had changed when we had money, but the money we had at that time was not sufficient to purchase. But now that the market is down, we're desperately in pursuit. So most all of our activities are at events or in someone else's venue. Right now, we participate in U.S. Science and Engineering Festival in D.C. [Washington, D.C.]. There were 150,000 people that came to that. And you were saying people that, not shop, but it's nice to know, kind of thing. I got a photo of the African American who got the very first patent of, you know, not a drawing, but a photo of him and was able to include that in the, in the exhibit. And since we're just more like a picture show, you gotta keep people's interests. So we do it like a game, and we'll ask, "Can you tell me who did so and so?" It's an open-book test 'cause all the answers are right there. And more than likely people don't know. They don't have a clue. But to engage them, we will blow bubbles in the directions, so they start looking. One, they read more, and they end up reading everything as opposed to something that kind of looks interesting. So, we do that. We do Juneteenth, things like that. But when we have our facility, we have groups of kids come in. My thing is solar. I don't know if you noticed my solar cells on my roof.$$I did, I did, on the roof, right, right.$$I've had my solar cells ten years, and I wanted solar cells when I didn't have a roof. And energy and the variety of what DOE [Department of Energy] research is, is what kept me there that long. And when we go to South Africa in two weeks, I'm gonna do a solar paper there.