Christine Darden

Feb. 5, 2019 |

The Harding University American Studies Institute Distinguished Lecture Series featured Dr. Christine Darden, former NASA mathematician and one of the “human computers” featured in the book “Hidden Figures” that became a 2016 hit movie. The presentation, titled “On Their Shoulders,” served as the Institute’s second annual Educator Appreciation Night.

All educators were invited to attend as honored guests and received priority seating for the presentation, a special identification badge and recognition during the event. All educators also could register to win “A Day with Christine Darden” in which Darden visited the winner’s school to conduct lectures, hold Q&A sessions, and have lunch with students, teachers and administrators. The winner was University of Arkansas Community College at Batesville.

Darden is one of the researchers featured in Margot Lee Shetterly’s New York Times bestselling book “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race” that was adapted into an Oscar-nominated movie in 2016. She refers to herself as one who stood on the shoulders of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, the first NASA “Human Computers” who contributed to the space program in the early 1960s. She has titled her lecture “On Their Shoulders.”

Darden was the first African-American woman at NASA’s Langley Research Center to be promoted into the Senior Executive Service for her work researching supersonic flight and sonic booms. She has been recognized with dozens of awards and honors, including two NASA medals and Women in Science and Engineering Lifetime Achievement Award. Most recently, Darden was nominated for a Congressional Gold Medal, considered one of the highest civilian awards in the U.S.

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