Women of Interest – Katherine Johnson

Katherine Johnson was born August 26, 1918, in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, USA. She is an African-American physicist and mathematician who began working at NASA in 1953 and remained there until her retirement in 1986. Johnson calculated the trajectories, launch windows, and emergency back-up return paths for many early NASA missions, including those of John Glenn and Alan Shepard. In fact, Glenn refused to fly unless Johnson verified the calculations. She also did the calculations for the Apollo 11 flight to the moon. Johnson was the youngest of four children. She graduated high school at age 14 and college at 18 years of age with degrees in Mathematics and French. Throughout her career Johnson co-authored numerous scientific papers. In 1999 Johnson was recognized as West Virginia State College Outstanding Alumnus of the Year. In 2015 President Barack Obama presented Katherine Johnson with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was accredited with being a ground-breaking example of African-American women in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics.)

Supplementary information about Katherine Johnson may be found at the following websites:

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