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Hidden Figures Author Margot Lee Shetterly to Receive 2019 JPBM Communications Award

The below release was originally posted by the American Mathematical Society.

Photo credit: Aran Shetterly

Margot Lee Shetterly will receive the 2019 Joint Policy Board for Mathematics (JPBM) Communications Award for her book and subsequent movie Hidden Figures, which opened science and mathematics to a new generation of women and people of color by bringing into the light the stories of the African-American women who made significant contributions to aeronautics and astronautics, and, ultimately, to America's victory in the space race.

Response of Margot Lee Shetterly

Being awarded the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics Communications Award is a great honor, not just for me but for all of the women who worked as computers, mathematicians, math aides, data analysts and engineers at the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) over the years. Though largely unheralded during their careers, these women provided the necessary calculations that fueled America’s ascent into the Earth’s atmosphere, and into space. It is my hope that they will serve as role models for current and future generations of women and men, and that they will remind us that the quest to understand the natural world is one of the most fundamental aspects of our shared humanity.

Biographical Sketch of Margot Lee Shetterly

Writer, researcher, and entrepreneur Margot Lee Shetterly is the author of Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race, which was a top book of 2016 for both TIME and Publisher’s Weekly, a USA Today bestseller, and a #1 New York Times bestseller. Shetterly is also the founder of the Human Computer Project, a digital archive of the stories of NASA’s African-American “Human Computers” whose work tipped the balance in favor of the United States in WWII, the Cold War, and the Space Race. According to The New York Times, the 2016 film adaptation of her book introduces viewers to “real people you might wish you had known more about earlier…[who] can fill you with an outrage at the persistence of injustice and gratitude towards those who had the grit to stand up against it.”

Shetterly will be presented with the JPBM Communications Award at the Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM) in Baltimore, Maryland, on Saturday, January 19 at 11:00 a.m. in the Baltimore Convention Center Hall Room 309/310, followed by an hour on-stage interview and opportunity to meet her. The public is invited to the presentation and event, which is a highlight of the full day of free Mathemati-Con sessions and events sponsored by JMM, the largest mathematics meeting in the world.

Background of the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics Communication Award

The Joint Policy Board for Mathematics (JPBM) Communication Award was established by the JPBM in 1988 and is given annually to reward and encourage communicators who, on a sustained basis, bring mathematical ideas and information to non-mathematical audiences. The JPBM is a collaborative effort of the American Mathematical Society, the American Statistical Association, the Mathematical Association of America, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics.

Find out more about the award and see past recipients.

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