What is the "NAM J. Ernest Wilkins Lecture" Series?

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 Jesse 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as a highly productive scholar, having published more than 80 journal articles and having produced an additional 22 unpublished reports for the Atomic Energy Commission. Wilkins 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.

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.

Nomination emails must include the following information,

  1. Name of Nominee
  2. Award or lecture you are nominating them for
  3. Website of Nominee
  4. E-Mail Address of Nominee
  5. Briefly explain why this person should give the J. Ernest Wilkins Lecture

E-mail your nominations to: nominations@nam-math.org

Past NAM J. Ernest Wilkins Lectures


MathFest XXXII: September 23 - September 25, 2022 at Morgan State University

Akil Parker (All This Math)

HBCU Students as Math Ambassadors to the Black Community


MathFest XXXI: October 1 - October 2, 2021 held virtually

Pamela Harris (Williams College)

Parking Functions: Choose Your Own Adventure

MathFest XXX: October 9 - October 10, 2020 held virtually

Omayra Ortega (Sonoma State University)

Exceptional Statistics: From J. Ernest Wilkins to Coronavirus Epidemiology

MathFest XXIX: September 27 - September 29, 2019 at Southern University of New Orleans (Region A)

Donald Cole (University of Mississippi)

Squaring the Circle

MathFest XXVIII: September 28 - September 30, 2018 at Spelman College (Region A)

Michelle Craddock Guinn (Belmont University)

Enhancing Imagery Techniques

MathFest XXVII: September 29 - October 1, 2017 at Medgar Evers College (Region B)

Stephon Alexander (Brown University)

A Meditation on Jazz, Mathematics and Cosmology

MathFest XXVI: November 10-12, 2016 at Morgan State University (Region B)

Jonathan David Farley (Morgan State University)

MathFest XXV: October 29-31, 2015 at Morgan State University (Region B)

Speaker unknown

MathFest XXIV: Cancelled


MathFest XXIII: November 8-9, 2013 at Texas State University (Region C)

Speaker unknown

MATHFest XXII: November 1-3, 2012 at Morgan State University (Region B)

Speaker unknown

MATHFest XXI: November 3-5, 2011 at Dillard University (Region C)

Gaston N'Guerekata (Morgan State University)

MATHFest XX: November 18-20, 2010 at Miami Dade College (Region A)

Speaker unknown

MATHFest XIX: November 12-14, 2009 at the University of District of Columbia (Region B)

Speaker unknown

MATHFest XVIII: November 13-15, 2008 at Texas Southern University (Region C)

Speaker unknown

MATHFest XVII: November 8-10, 2007 at Spelman College (Region A)

Dawn Lott (Delaware State University)

Diary of a MAD Black Woman

MATHFest XVI: November 9-11, 2006 at Howard University (Region B)

Beverly Anderson (University of the District of Columbia)

The Life and Legacy of Professor James E. Joseph

MATHFest XV: November 10-12, 2005 at Texas Southern University (Region C)

Speaker unknown

MATHFest XIV: October 7-9, 2004 at Morehouse College (Region A)

Speaker unknown

MATHFest XIII: October 20 - November 1, 2003 at Delaware Statue University (Region B)

Speaker unknown

MATHFest XII: October 2002 at Southern University of New Orleans (Region C)

Speaker unknown

MATHFest XI: October 4-6, 2001 at Florida A&M (Region A)

Bernard Mair (University of Florida)

Mathematics in Tomography

MATHFest X: October 26-28, 2000 at Morgan State University (Region B)

Scott W. Williams (State University of New York at Buffalo)

MATHFest IX: October 21-23, 1999 at Texas Southern University (Region C)

Richard Tapia (Rice University)

Some Applications in Computational Science

MATHFest VIII: October 21-23, 1998 at 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

MATHFest VII: October 23-25, 1997 at Elizabeth City State University (Region B)

Johnny L. Houston (Elizabeth City State University)

Some Results and Problems in Discrete and Computational Geometry

MATHFest VI: October 24-26, 1996 at Xavier University (Region C)

Isom Herron (Rensselear Polytechnic Institute)

The Fluid Motion

MATHFest V: October 26-28, 1995 at Clark Atlanta (Region A)

Earl Barnes (Georgia Institute of Technology)

Eigenvalues and Graph Coloring

MATHFest IV: October 13-15, 1994 at North Carolina A&T (Region B)

J. Ernest Wilkins (Clark Atlanta University)

Real Zeros of Random Polynomials

MATHFest III: October 21-23, 1993 at Southern University (Region C)

No Speaker

MATHFest II: March 18-20, 1993 at Spelman College (Region A)

No Speaker

MATHFest I: November 1991 at Hampton University (Region B)

No Speaker