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African American Scientists

David Blackwell (1919-2010)

David Blackwell

Image credit: Konrad Jacobs, Erlangen, Copyright is MFO [CC BY-SA 2.0 de], via Wikimedia Commons

  • Earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Illinois in 1941 at the age of 22.
  • Served on the faculty at Howard University until 1954, when he accepted a position at UC Berkeley, where he became the institution's first African American tenured professor. 
  • Published over 80 articles in the field of mathematics, and gaged theorems that bear his name, including the Blackwell renewal theorem, and the Rao-Blackwell theorem.
  • Worked extensively in the field of game theory, applying it to military situations
  • The first African American to be named to the American Academy of Sciences 
  • In 2002 Berkley and Cornell Universities established the Blackwell-Tapia Award to recognize those who have inspired and achieved great things in the area of mathematical sciences.