First Black woman to earn applied math Ph.D. at Harvard passes away

Wednesday, June 24, 2020 - 16:50 in Psychology & Sociology

Humble and soft-spoken, Deborah Washington Brown would never have described herself as a trailblazer. But as the first Black woman to graduate from the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in 1981 with a Ph.D. in applied mathematics, she shattered the racial and gender barriers that still plague technology fields today.  Brown was the first Black computer scientist to earn a Ph.D. in the applied mathematics program at  Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences , and also one of the first Black, female computer scientists to graduate from a U.S. doctoral program. Though she passed away on June 5 after a long battle with cancer, her achievements and legacy remain as an inspiration for those who have followed in her footsteps.  Brown was born in Washington, D.C., on June 3, 1952. The youngest of four children, Brown’s mother worked as a hairdresser and her father was a taxi cab...

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