Whitney Ingram to be First Black Woman to Graduate From University of Georgia With Ph.D in Physics

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When some 7-year-olds read about the sun potentially engulfing the Earth into a red ball and exploding into a supernova, they’re likely to have nightmares.

Then again, not all 7-year-olds are like Whitney Ingram, who was reading her father’s National Geographic at that age.

That interest in the sciences is what’s leading Ingram to become the first black woman to graduate from the University of Georgia with a Ph.D. in physics.

“My love of science at a young age came from arts and crafts books, where you could build small projects,” Ingram told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

That passion stayed with her through college, where she eventually earned her bachelor’s degree in physics.

After some convincing from her mother, Ingram decided to reach out to UGA’s Office of Institutional Research to find out if she would be the first black woman to earn a Ph.D. in physics from the university. UGA sent her an email confirming the historic feat in February.

Black female physicists are a rare breed. There were 138 black women working in physics as of May, according to African American Women in physics, a website that keeps track of the number of black female physicists in America.

“There’s a gray area between those who work as physicists and those who have a Ph.D. degree in physics, or astrophysics,” AAWIP.com’s founder, Jami M. Valentine, said in an email. “This becomes more muddled as university programs become more interdisciplinary.”

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SOURCE: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Raisa Habersham