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BIPOC in STEM

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J. Ernest Wilkins, Jr.

J. Ernest Wilkins, Jr.

  • 1923, Born Chicago, IL; 2011, Dies 2011, Fountain Hills, AZ
  • 1936, Enters University of Chicago at age 13
  • 1940, Receives bachelor’s degree in mathematics
  • 1941, Receives master’s degree
  • 1942, Earns Ph.D. at the age of 19
  • 1943-44, Teaches at Tuskegee Institute
  • 1944, Joins University of Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory where he collaborates with Arthur Compton and Enrico Fermi as they research nuclear fission
  • 1944, Co-authors paper with Eugene Wigner detailing the Wigner-Wilkins approach to estimating neutron energy absorption within nuclear reactors (paper not declassified until 1948)
  • 1945, Signs Leo Szilard’s petition to President Truman asking he refrain from using the atomic bomb
  • 1946-1950, Works for American Optical Company in Buffalo, NY
  • 1950-1960, Works for Nuclear Development Corporation of America
  • 1960, Earns MA in Mechanical Engineering from NYU
  • 1970, Joins Howard University faculty and founds Howard’s Mathematics Ph.D. program
  • 1970s-2000s, Earns several honors, including the U.S. Army Outstanding Civilian Service Medal

Wilkins was a key member of The Manhattan Project, working with Arthur Compton, Enrico Fermi, and Eugene Wigner on nuclear fission.

Additional Resources

* Biographical information compiled by Jeffery Jones, 2022

Library Resources

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