Newsletter

Stay up to date with the latest from MAKERS delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for new stories from trailblazing women, a big dose of inspiration, and exclusive MAKERS content.

Newsletter Confirmation

Thank you for joining! Please check your inbox for our special welcome letter
with exclusive updates from MAKERS.

MAKERS Moment

Constellations

Constellations

More From Katherine G.

In this video

NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson talks about how the stars and constellations we're familiar with on Earth look much different when you're in orbit.

Katherine G.'s Biography

Love for Math:Because there's an exact answer.
Early Affinity for Numbers:"They tell me I counted everything."
Growing Up an African American Girl:"You could be a nurse or a teacher."
The Power of Teachers:"The fact that teachers can obstruct or they can assist. And mine always assisted me in moving up."

Katherine G. Johnson is a pioneer in American space history. A NASA mathematician, Johnson's computations have influenced every major space program from Mercury through the Shuttle. She even calculated the flight path for the first American mission space.
 
Born in 1918 in West Virginia, Johnson was a talented student who entered college at only 15 years old. At West Virginia State University, W.W. Schiefflin Clayor, the third African American to earn a PhD. in mathematics, recognized Johnson's abilities and motivated her to take advanced math. Johnson would go on to earn a graduate degree in mathematics.
 
In 1953, Johnson was contracted as a research mathematician at the Langley Research Center with the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA), the agency that preceded NASA. She worked in a pool of women performing math calculations until she was temporarily assigned to help the all-male flight research team, and wound up staying there. Johnson’s specialty was calculating the trajectories for space shots which determined the timing for launches, including the Mercury mission and Apollo 11, the mission to the moon.
 

Related Videos

Geena Davis
Geena Davis
Actor

Geena Davis has made a career of supporting groundbreaking female characters. She made her Hollywood debut in “Tootsie,” starring opposite Dustin Hoffman. Davis won an ...

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
Ileana Ros-Lehtinen
First Latina Elected to Congress

Ileana Ros-Lehtinen fled Castro’s Cuba with her family when she was eight. She was educated in Miami’s Little Havana and earned her Bachelor’s degree in 1975, bef...

Alfre Woodard
Alfre Woodard
Actor

Alfre Woodard is a prolific actor; she has acted in over 25 TV series and over 70 films during her long career. She grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and didn’t consider becoming a...

Andrea Reusing
Andrea Reusing
Award Winning Chef

Andrea Reusing is dedicated to the sustainable agriculture movement. Her Chapel Hill, North Carolina local and organic restaurant, Lantern, was voted one of the “best farm-to...