Katherine Johnson, the NASA mathematician whose calculations helped bring Apollo astronauts back to Earth, is being honored at her alma mater with a bronze statue and a scholarship in her name.
Taraji P. Henson played Katherine Johnson in the movie, “Hidden Figures” about African American female mathematicians who worked at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) during the Space Race. Katherine Johnson is the mathematician who calculated flight trajectories for Project Mercury and other missions. West Virginia State University is planning a dedication ceremony is for Aug. 25, the day before Johnson’s 100th birthday.
Long before the digital era, Johnson worked as a human “computer” at the agency that became NASA, working in relative obscurity as an African-American woman. Her contributions were later recognized in the “Hidden Figures” movie.
West Virginia State hopes to endow the scholarship at $100,000, awarding money to students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math, targeting people who are underrepresented in those fields.