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TC’s Felicia Mensah and Alumna Katemari Rosa Highlight Stories of African-American Female Physicists

Felicia Mensah, Professor of Science and Education and Associate Dean at Teachers College
Felicia Mensah, Professor of Science and Education and Associate Dean at Teachers College
At the March annual meeting of the American Physical Society (APS), Felicia Mensah, Professor of Science and Education and Associate Dean at Teachers College, and TC alumna Katemari Rosa — now a professor of physics education at Brazil’s Universidade Federal de Campina Grande — presented the largely unknown stories of six contemporary African-American woman physicists. An article in the APS News about the presentation is here.

A biologist by training, Mensah trains K-12 science teachers and researches how to improve science curricula. Her former graduate student, Rosa, interviewed these six women in person, and they analyzed the many hours of interviews and published the results last August in Physical Review Physics Education Research.

The six women, anonymous in the paper, all have Ph.D.s in physics or a related field such as materials science. Two are assistant professors — one at a private liberal arts college, the other at a public historically black college. Three work for the government, and one is a researcher at a public university.

Based on their research Mensah and Rosa estimate that no more than 90 African-American women have Ph.D.’s in physics, astronomy, or an adjacent field. “Black women were 11 percent of all women receiving bachelors degrees in 2010, but only 2.9 percent of women receiving physics bachelor degrees in the same year,” they write in the paper.

To read the entire APS News piece, go here.

Published Monday, May 1, 2017

Felicia Mensah, Professor of Science and Education and Associate Dean at Teachers College
Felicia Mensah, Professor of Science and Education and Associate Dean at Teachers College
At the March annual meeting of the American Physical Society (APS), Felicia Mensah, Professor of Science and Education and Associate Dean at Teachers College, and TC alumna Katemari Rosa — now a professor of physics education at Brazil’s Universidade Federal de Campina Grande — presented the largely unknown stories of six contemporary African-American woman physicists. An article in the APS News about the presentation is here.

A biologist by training, Mensah trains K-12 science teachers and researches how to improve science curricula. Her former graduate student, Rosa, interviewed these six women in person, and they analyzed the many hours of interviews and published the results last August in Physical Review Physics Education Research.

The six women, anonymous in the paper, all have Ph.D.s in physics or a related field such as materials science. Two are assistant professors — one at a private liberal arts college, the other at a public historically black college. Three work for the government, and one is a researcher at a public university.

Based on their research Mensah and Rosa estimate that no more than 90 African-American women have Ph.D.’s in physics, astronomy, or an adjacent field. “Black women were 11 percent of all women receiving bachelors degrees in 2010, but only 2.9 percent of women receiving physics bachelor degrees in the same year,” they write in the paper.

To read the entire APS News piece, go here.

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