Events & Programs

Celebrating Black Scientists

From the great engineering feats of African Stonehenge and the Egyptian pyramids, to traffic lights, automatic elevator doors, and gas masks, contributions of blacks to society continue to be of astounding significance. At Pacific Science Center, we are excited to celebrate and amplify black voices not just in February, but throughout the year by highlighting the contributions of black scientists, technologists, engineers, and mathematicians.

Black Diaspora 

We note in 1986 Congress passed Public Law 99-244 (PDF, 142KB) which designated February 1986 as “National Black History Month”. We use the term “black” to echo this designation of Black History Month, while also recognizing that there is a wide black diaspora (mass dispersion of peoples from Africa during the Transatlantic Slave Trades, from the 1500s to the 1800s) that took millions of people from Western and Central Africa to different regions throughout the Americas and the Caribbean. We therefore recognize and honor the various Afro-Caribbean roots captured within the term “black” for Black History Month.


PacSci Statement on Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access

We believe that curiosity and critical thinking are essential to equity and justice for all. We embrace science as a process of inquiry, discovery, and problem solving that helps us better understand our universe and each other. Science has the power to connect people and to develop solutions for the common good.

We commit to our guests, community, and colleagues that we will:

  • Use curiosity, critical thinking, and innovation to identify, understand, and reduce inequities and barriers to participation in science.
  • Ensure that our facilities, programs, experiences, and the benefits they provide are accessible to people of all backgrounds, and financial, social, physical, and intellectual abilities.
  • Be a community laboratory and living room that is inclusive and welcoming to everyone.
  • Include diverse experiences and perspectives in our work, particularly the voices of people who have previously been excluded.
  • Honor and better reflect the diverse community we serve.
  • Learn from our past, tackle current issues, and create an equitable future.

We prioritize inclusion, diversity, equity and access in order to strengthen our organization and our community. We encourage all members of our community to come together, to celebrate science and each other, and to be curious.

Community and Justice: Urban Conservation and Human-Wildlife Coexistence

In this presentation, Urban Ecologist Dr. Chris Schell discusses the patterns and processes by which wildlife are adapting to cities. Learn how carnivores like coyotes and raccoons have become sentinels of urban environments, helping reframe how we consider our cities as viable greenspaces, and come together as a community around their amazing stories. Their narratives provide another lens on how we can be effective environmental stewards through activism and social justice that dismantles structural racism and classism.

An Interview with Adriane Brown, PacSci's Board Chair

Read an interview with Adriane Brown, and hear her experiences in the corporate world as well as thoughts in investing in communities. Read more

An Interview with Jessie Woolley-Wilson

Read an interview with Jessie Woolley-Wilson, and her thoughts on how personalized education can democratize learning opportunities. Read more

Black Scientists

Who inspires you to be your best?

The teens in our Discovery Corps program told us that, while they look up to people who make big discoveries, real inspiration comes from learning how great people overcome obstacles to achieve their dreams.

We worked with the teens to create Path of Persistence, an exhibit honoring some of the African American scientists whose passion, curiosity and determination led to scientific breakthroughs and inventions that enrich our lives.

This is by no means a complete list. Tag us @PacSci on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram to share the names of Black scientists, innovators, and inventors you think should be recognized!.

Garrett Morgan

The son of freed slaves and equipped with a 6th grade education, Morgan had a natural talent for fixing things. He gained success as an inventor by tackling a variety of problems such as improving sewing machines, creating the world’s first hair relaxer, and inventing the first 3-position traffic light and a precursor to WWI gas masks.

Marie Maynard Daly

Inspired by her father, who was financially unable to finish his degree, Daly became the first African American woman to earn a PhD in chemistry. Her research significantly contributed to our understanding of heart attacks and lung disease. In addition, her trailblazing research helped advance our understanding of how diet affects cardiovascular health and the circulatory system.

Katherine Goble Johnson

Raised in a town where education for most African Americans ended in 8th grade, Johnson’s parents sent her to another district so she could keep learning. She excelled, skipped several grades, and graduated from college at just 18 years old. Working for the space program, Johnson’s complex mathematical calculations were critical in launching the first American into space, the first moon landing, and
the start of the shuttle program.

Aprille Ericcsson

Inspired by the Apollo moon missions as a child, Ericsson dreamed of becoming an astronaut. She earned PhDs in engineering from both Howard University and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Ericsson is currently the instrument manager for a mission to bring Mars dust back to Earth, an important step in preparing for humans to travel to Mars.

Sylvester James Gates

Gates was fascinated by stars and the language of math at a young age. While in high school, his physics teacher showed him how math equations describe natural phenomena. Stimulated by exploring life’s big questions through math, Gates found his life’s work in the field of theoretical physics. He researches supersymmetry and string theory, which try to reconcile the general theory of relativity with quantum mechanics.

Mae Jemison

Mae could have been a dancer, but she always wanted to be an astronaut. Entering college at age 16, she earned degrees in chemistry, Afro-American studies and medicine. But space still called, so Mae applied to NASA. She became the first African American woman in space as crew on the shuttle Endeavour and then formed a company to develop technologies that improve everyday life.

Mark Dean

As a kid, Dean often accompanied his father, a dam worker, on inspection rounds, marveling at the engineering. Fascinated by math and problem solving, Dean started at IBM right out of college. He was chief engineer of the team that designed the first IBM PC in the early ‘80s. Dean has been instrumental in many other computing advances, remaining a top visionary in the field.

Patricia Bath

Raised in poverty, the gift of a microscope ignited Bath’s passion for science. Graduating high school in just two and a half years, she chose medicine as her field and dedicated her career to improving eye health. She pioneered the concept of “community ophthalmology” to bring volunteer vision services to low-income populations and received four patents on technologies to treat cataracts.

Lonnie Johnson

A curious child, Johnson experimented by taking things apart to figure out how they worked. Once, he nearly burned his house down trying to create rocket fuel. Johnson became an engineer working on the stealth bomber program for the Air Force and on nuclear propulsion systems for NASA. But the inventions he is most famous for are the Super Soaker and Nerf toy guns.

Stephon Alexander

Physicist and Musician, Dr. Stephon Alexander, has straddled the worlds of theoretical physics and jazz music for more than two decades. Learning a love for music from his Trinidadian grandmother, Alexander went on to obtain his Bachelors of Science from Haverford College, his Doctorate from Brown, and has been a research physicist at the Imperial College of London and the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center of Stanford University. A specialist in the field of string cosmology, particle physics, and quantum gravity (String Theory and Loop Quantum Gravity), Alexander co-invented the model of inflation called D-Branes and is also an accomplished saxophonist with a critically acclaimed jazz album named Rioux.


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