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Harvard Ph.D. Candidate LaNell Williams Champions Black Women in Physics

LaNell Williams is a doctoral candidate in physics at Harvard University and only the third Black woman to do so at the Ivy League institution, ever. Williams has been a high-achiever her entire life, and Harvard isn’t the first prestigious institution she’s attended. She received an undergraduate degree in physics, from the well-regarded Wesleyan University and then a master’s in physics from the historically-Black Fisk University. However, she didn’t always dream of being a scientist. She grew up in a lower-middle-class neighborhood with a father who had spent his youth as an activist. Her father — who grew up in rural South Carolina — was a journalist/activist and was one of the first Black students admitted to Princeton University. He later got kicked out because of his close friendship with hippies who were involved in race riots in the 70s. Throughout her childhood, Williams felt the pull to continue in her father’s footsteps and fight for her community in social justice...

Dec 4, 2019