As mentioned on my social media, I am dedicating this month to sharing history about Black History Month Black STEMmers. I will begin by talking about phones– something we use every day! It’s important to learn about the forward-thinking African-American STEM contributors that make what I love (tech!!) even possible!
Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, Physicist and Caller ID inventor
As her first major accomplishment, along with being 1 of 20 African-American students at MIT in her undergraduate education (the only one studying theoretical physics), she is the first African-American female Ph.D graduate of MIT, the second to earn a doctorate in physics in the US. As a postdoctoral researcher, she researched at several physics laboratories all over the US. Jackson joined the Theoretical Physics Research Department at AT&T Bell Laboratories in 1976 and began her time at Bell Labs by studying materials to be used in the semiconductor industry. It was in 1977 that she made contributions that made Calling Line Identification Presentation (C.L.I.P.) possible. CLIP and her many additional contributions are what makes call waiting, caller ID AND touch-tone phones possible.
She was the first woman and first African-American to hold the position of President at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. It is easy to see that she has received many fellowships, awards and has been inducted in the National Women’s Hall of Fame (1998), became president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and (my favorite) was appointed by President Obama to serve on the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, and is still on the Chair with President Trump. This is only scratching the service of her achievements.
Shirley Ann Jackson, you are a national hero!
To read more about Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, check out Strong Force: The Story of Physicist Shirley Ann Jackson (Women’s Adventures in Science) by Joseph Henry Press.