Influential black and minority ethnic scientists recognised for contributions to society

Leicester physicists are marking Black History Month by profiling the most influential BME scientists from both history and modern times.

Throughout October, staff at the Department of Physics and Astronomy will recognise one black and minority ethnic scientist each day with a summary of their life and work at their campus home.

Organisers Dr Rhaana Starling and Rosie Johnson, on behalf of the departmental equality and diversity working group, said the idea was to raise awareness of the under-representation of black and minority ethnic people in the industry, and to celebrate those who have changed the way we view the Universe and everything in it.

Dr Starling said: “Every day during the month of October we will profile one black and minority ethnic scientist in our foyer. We are including people from history as well as contemporary scientists.

"Our statistics show that while 18% of our physics students identified as BME or mixed race in 2015, that figure was 6% for academic and research staff. We aim to improve upon this through activities including events to highlight role models, to address barriers to participation, expand our mentoring programmes, and constant re-evaluation of our policies and procedures, creating and maintaining an inclusive working culture.”

This year, Black History Month nationally will recognise the life and work of South African Social Rights activist Desmond Tutu, made an Honorary Doctor of Letters by the University in 2011, who marks his 85th Birthday.

Black History Month is an annual celebration and recognition event observed in America, Canada, and the UK which remembers the important people and events in the history of black and minority ethnic people around the world.

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The full list of scientists being celebrated is available below:

Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock

Benjamin Banneker

Kitaw Ijegu

Cheick Modibo Diarra

Srinivasa Ramanujan

Mary Jackson

George Robert Carruthers

Ahmed Zewail

Dr Mae Jemison

Prof. John Remedios

Katherine Johnson

Professor Saiful Islam

Dr. Claudia Alexander

Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar

Dr. Endawoke Yizengaw

Dorothy Vaughan

Dr. Nikku Madhusudhan

Neil deGrasse Tyson

Professor Hiranya Peiris

Dr. Olivier Godet

Prof. Arthur Walker