Celebrating Native American/ Indigenous History Heritage Month with notable STEMists

As I write this, I first want to acknowledge the land the University of Minnesota is on. These are the original homelands of the Dakota and Ojibwe Nations. It is important for us to note and respect the Indigenous peoples who were forcibly removed from this land and those who are still connected to this land. But more importantly, we must do our part in acknowledging their continued displacement from their land, make an effort to incorporate Indigenous knowledge into our work, and highlight and create genuine relationships and partnerships with Indigenous communities and peoples.

In the past year, many efforts worldwide have been making great strides in highlighting BIPOC in STEM on social media. BlackinSTEM, LatinxinSTEM, etchave all been incredible movements that have not only brought attention to BIPOC communities who truly deserve it, but increased visibility for the next generation of diverse STEMists. When thinking about diversifying STEM fields we must constantly make strides in including Native and Indigenous voices in these changes. 

For Native and Indigenous Heritage Month, I decided to use Twitter to highlight Native and Indigenous STEMists who have contributed significant work to their field, to their community, and to their Native tribes. This blog post is a compilation of that series of tweets.

Meet Aaron Yazzie @YazzieSays; Mechanical Engineer at NASA (image by Adexy04)

Meet Dr. Grace Bulltail @GraceBulltail; University of Wisconsin professor & engineer! Dr. Bulltail’s work and research is at the critical interface of tribal sovereignty & water resource management (image used with permission from Dr. Bulltail)

Meet Dr. Kat Milligan-Myhre @Napaaqtuk; Professor in the University of Connecticut Department of Molecular and Biological Sciences (image by K.L.Behnke, used with permission)

Meet Dr. Mary Jo Ondrechen (Mohawk), @MJchemist; a computational chemist studying proteins. She recently started work to characterize the proteins relevant in COVID-19 in hopes of discovering ways to disrupt the viral life cycle. (image used with permission from Dr. Ondrechen)

Meet Mary G. Ross. She was the first known female engineer and worked as a rocket scientist solving numerous design issues involved with high speed flight. (image shows 2019 Native American Dollar coin featuring Mary G. Ross and one of the formulas she helped discover. Designed by Emily Damstra and sculpted by Joseph Menna, image from the U.S. Mint)

Meet Gary Burnette! Mr. Burnette is a champion for the Native Community at IBM and active in Cheroenhaka tribal life (image used with permission from Mr. Burnette)

Meet Dr. Nancy B. Jackson! Dr. Jackson performed research at Sandia Labs
focusing on developing fuels from alternative sources. She also founded the International Chemical Threat Reduction Department in the Global Security Center (image by Conrad Erb, from the Science History Institute)

Meet Edna Paisano, a Nez Perce and Laguna Pueblo demographer & statistician who created a method for more accurately counting Native communities for the USA census. She received the Department of Commerce Silver Medal in 1994 for this work. (image adapted from Skrupa47)

Meet Dr. R. Kōnane Bay @konanebay; currently a Presidential Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton. Dr. Bay has won numerous awards and is also passionate about service & outreach (image used with permission from Dr. Bay)

Meet Dr. Kathleen R. Johnson, an associate professor at UC Irvine where her lab focuses on paleoclimatology research by developing records of past climate using speleothems (cave calcite formations) and other archives. (image used with permission from Dr. Johnson)

Meet Bertha Parker, pioneering archaeologist (image from the Smithsonian Institution Archives)

Additional Resources