Short Wave: Black Excellence In STEM Diversity, equity and inclusion are core to the Short Wave mission. We know that everything is science, and science is for everyone. Here, we're highlighting the Black researchers changing and challenging the STEM fields.
Special Series

Short Wave: Black Excellence In STEM

LOS ANGELES - JAN 8: Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data in the STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION episode, "The Hunted." Season 3, ep 11. Original air date, 1/8/90. (Photo by CBS via Getty Images) CBS Photo Archive/CBS via Getty Images hide caption

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CBS Photo Archive/CBS via Getty Images

Physicist Desiré Whitmore teaches workshops to help teachers better communicate science. As part of that, Desiré uses optical illusions to explain how social blind spots come into play in the classroom. Scott Barbour/Getty Images for NGV hide caption

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Scott Barbour/Getty Images for NGV

What physical blind spots can teach us about social blind spots

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The ancient night sky and the earliest astronomers

Moiya McTier says the night sky has been fueling humans' stories about the universe for a very long time, and informing how they explain the natural world. In fact, Moiya sees astronomy and folklore as two sides of the same coin.

The ancient night sky and the earliest astronomers

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Members of MISS work up a shark. Cliff Hawkins/Field School hide caption

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Cliff Hawkins/Field School

How Women Of Color Created Community In The Shark Sciences

As a kid, Jasmin Graham was endlessly curious about the ocean. That eventually led her to a career in marine science studying sharks and rays. But until relatively recently, she had never met another Black woman in her field.

How Women Of Color Created Community In The Shark Sciences

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People take a moment to enjoy the public art installation of illuminated seesaws unveiled by Garment District Alliance along Broadway on January 30, 2020 in New York City. David Dee Delgado/Getty Images hide caption

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David Dee Delgado/Getty Images

Abra Lee is a horticulturalist and studies U.S. gardening history. She fondly remembers her own relatives' gardens as holding a special place in horticultural history. Carlos Alejandro/Abra Lee hide caption

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Carlos Alejandro/Abra Lee

Tracing A Fraught And Amazing History Of American Horticulture

When Abra Lee became the landscape manager at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, she sought some advice about how to best do the job. The answer: study the history of gardening. That led to her uncovering how Black involvement in horticulture in the U.S. bursts with incredible stories and profound expertise, intertwined with a tragic past. She's now teaching these stories and working on a book, Conquer the Soil: Black America and the Untold Stories of Our Country's Gardeners, Farmers, and Growers. Abra Lee talks with Short Wave producer Eva Tesfaye about uncovering Black horticultural history and several hidden figures who shaped it.

Tracing A Fraught And Amazing History Of American Horticulture

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A screenshot from Tina Lasisi's presentation, "Quantifying hair morphology with new methods in sample preparation and image analysis," for the Penn State University Grad School Exhibition, 2020. Tina Lasisi hide caption

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Tina Lasisi

How to Talk About Hair Like a Scientist

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For a scientific experiment, a person sits in front of a computer, and an EEG measures the electrical signals released by neurons in their brain. Getty Images hide caption

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Getty Images

Micro Wave: I'll Peanut Jam Your Brain

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Facial recognition researcher Joy Buolamwini stands for a portrait behind a mask she had to use so that software could detect her face. Buolamwini's research has uncovered racial and gender bias in facial analysis tools sold by companies such as Amazon that have a hard time recognizing certain faces, especially darker-skinned women. Steven Senne/AP hide caption

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Steven Senne/AP

Why Tech Companies Are Limiting Police Use of Facial Recognition

In June 2020, Amazon, Microsoft and IBM announced that they were limiting some uses of their facial recognition technology. In this encore episode, Maddie and Emily talk to AI policy analyst Mutale Nkonde about algorithmic bias — how facial recognition software can discriminate and reflect the biases of society and the current debate about policing has brought up the issue about how law enforcement should use this technology.

Why Tech Companies Are Limiting Police Use of Facial Recognition

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Until Henrietta Lacks' cells came along, whenever human cells were put in a lab dish, they would die immediately or reproduce only a few times. HeLa cells, by contrast, grew indefinitely. National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research via AP hide caption

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National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research via AP

Brain Trouble, the second book in The Magnificent Makers series. Penguin Random House hide caption

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Penguin Random House

The Creation Of The Magnificent Makers

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A Short Wave Guide To Good — And Bad — TV Forensics

Raychelle Burks is a forensic chemist AND a big fan of murder mysteries. Today, we talk pop culture forensics with Raychelle and what signs to look for to know whether or not a tv crime show is getting the science right.

A Short Wave Guide To Good — And Bad — TV Forensics

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Dajae Williams is a quality engineer at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab. "I create music that fuses hip-hop and math as a tool to encourage underprivileged youth to explore STEM." NASA/JPL-Caltech hide caption

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NASA/JPL-Caltech

This NASA Engineer Is Bringing Math And Science To Hip Hop

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Dots of orbital debris are visible in this image of the Lunar Module Challenger from the Apollo 17 spacecraft, after docking maneuvers. The debris is from the Saturn S-IVB stage separation. NASA hide caption

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NASA

Dr. Jean-Jacques Muyembe first encountered Ebola in 1976, before it had been identified. Since then, from his post at the Congo National Institute for Biomedical Research, he has led the global search for a cure. Samantha Reinders/Samantha Reinders for NPR hide caption

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Samantha Reinders/Samantha Reinders for NPR

Why do some of us enjoy scary experiences? (Not these kids.) RichVintage/Getty Images hide caption

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RichVintage/Getty Images