'Hidden Figures' mathematician to speak during MLK Week

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‘Hidden Figures’ mathematician to speak during MLK Week

Christine Darden
Christine Darden

Christine Darden, a retired member of the senior executive service for NASA’s Langley Research Center who was featured in the “Hidden Figures” book, will speak Jan. 25, during MLK Week at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

Darden, who is also a plenary speaker for the 21st annual Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics, will give the talk “The Fourth ‘Hidden Figure’: Getting to NASA,” for a general audience, at 1:30 p.m. at the Nebraska Union Auditorium. The lecture is free and open to the public. It will also be streamed live online.

Darden, whose final assignment at Langley in 2007 was as director of the Office of Strategic Communications and Education, was hired by NASA in June 1967 as a human computer. She was recently included in the book “Hidden Figures,” by author Margot Shetterly, as one who stood on the shoulders of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson, the NASA human computers, who as members of the segregated West Computers, contributed to the NASA space program in the early 1960s. Their work for NASA was featured in the 2016 movie, “Hidden Figures.”

Her talk will briefly discuss the movie, how Darden knew the women portrayed in the movie, and the role she has played in speaking to students around the United States during the past two years. Darden will then discuss her encounters with the Space Age both in high school and college and other events in her life that put her on the path to a 40-year career at NASA.

Darden, a native of Monroe, North Carolina, earned a Bachelor of Science in mathematics education from Hampton University; a Master of Science in applied mathematics from Virginia State University; and a Doctorate of Science in mechanical engineering from George Washington University. Darden also holds a Certificate of Advanced Study in Management from Simmons College Graduate School of Management.

Darden’s visit is sponsored by the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics and the university’s Department of Mathematics.

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