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The J Ernest Wilkins Lecture series was inaugurated in 1994 during NAM's Undergraduate MATHFest IV at North Carolina A&T. It is named in honor of J Ernest Wilkins, Jr. (November 27, 1923 -- May 12, 2011)*, an internationally recognized nuclear scientist, mechanical engineer and mathematician. 

J Ernest Wilkins was known in the press as the "Negro Genius." Wilkins received his B.S. degree as a Phi Beta Kappa graduate at the age of 16, his M.S. degree at age 17, and his Ph.D. degree at the age of 19. 

Although he has been highly praised as a superb practitioner of his crafts, Wilkins is also widely recognized and acclaimed as a highly productive scholar, having published more than 80 journal articles and having produced an additional 22 unpublished reports for the Atomic Energy CommissionWilkins is the only African American mathematician-engineer elected as a Fellow to the National Academy of Engineering (NAE)The inaugural lecture was given by Wilkins himself. The lecture is to be given annually at the Undergraduate MATHFest, a conference for which Wilkins was a frequent attendee.

* The wiki page incorrectly provides the first name "Jesse" for J Ernest Wilkins, but does provide a useful summary of some of J's accomplishments.

Suggest the Next J Ernest Wilkins Lecturer

We welcome nominations for future Wilkins Lecturers! Please consider the following criteria:

  • Wilkins Lecturers should be prepared to present a research talk to a general audience of undergraduate majors in the mathematician sciences.
  • We prefer speakers who have not given a Wilkins Lecture in the past.
  • We seek a diversity of speakers. Please remember that our intended audience will feature a diversity of race/ethnicity, gender, age, and mathematical subject matter.

Fill out the nomination form here.

Past NAM J Ernest Wilkins Lectures

 2021  Virtual Pamela Harris (Williams College) Parking Functions: Choose Your Own Adventure
 2020  Virtual Omayra Ortega (Sonoma State University)

Exceptional Statistics: From J Ernest Wilkins to Coronavirus Epidemiology

 2019  Southern University of New Orleans (Region A) Donald Cole (University of Mississippi) Squaring the Circle
 2018  Spelman College (Region A) Michelle Craddock Guinn (Belmont University)

Enhancing Imagery Techniques

 2017  Medgar Evers College (Region B) Stephon Alexander (Brown University) A Meditation on Jazz, Mathematics and Cosmology
 2016  Morgan State University (Region B) Jonathan David Farley (Morgan State University)  
 2011 Dillard University (Region C) Gaston N'Guerekata (Morgan State University)  
2007  Spelman College (Region A) Dawn Lott (Delaware State University) Diary of a MAD Black Woman
 2006 Howard University (Region B) Beverly Anderson (University of the District of Columbia) The Life and Legacy of Professor James E. Joseph
 2001 Florida A&M (Region A) Bernard Mair (University of Florida) Mathematics in Tomography
 2000 Morgan State University (Region B) Scott W. Williams (State University of New York at Buffalo)  
 1999 Texas Southern University (Region C) Richard Tapia (Rice University) Some Applications in Computational Science
 1998 Benedict College (Region A) Louis Dale (University of Alabama at Birmingham) The K-Closure of Monic and Monic-Free Ideals in a Polynomial Semi-Ring
 1997 Elizabeth City State University (Region B) Johnny L. Houston (Elizabeth City State University) Some Results and Problems in Discrete and Computational Geometry
 1996 Xavier University (Region C) Isom Herron (Rensselear Polytechnic Institute) The Fluid Motion
 1995Clark Atlanta (Region A)Earl Barnes (Georgia Institute of Technology)Eigenvalues and Graph Coloring
 1994North Carolina A&T (Region B)J Ernest Wilkins (Clark Atlanta University)Real Zeros of Random Polynomials

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