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OSA Mourns the Loss of Katherine Johnson – a True Pioneer


OSA Mourns the Loss of Katherine Johnson – a True Pioneer

By James Merrick, OSA Senior PR and Communications Manager

The Optical Society (OSA) and the STEM community pay tribute to NASA mathematician, pioneer for racial and gender equality and “Hidden Figure”, Katherine G. Johnson who died on 24 February 2020.

Though Johnson’s list of accomplishments is extensive, she is revered for her calculations of the orbital mechanics needed to successfully launch the first and future U.S. space flights around the Earth and to the Moon. The era of space exploration that has led to new discoveries would not have been possible without the efforts of Katherine Johnson. In 2015, Johnson was bestowed the highest civilian award in the U.S., the Presidential Medal of Freedom, from U.S. President Barack Obama.

 As an advocate for STEM education and racial equality, Johnson’s contributions to the STEM community are unparalleled. The Optical Society’s (OSA) core values of diversity and inclusion are a true testament to her legacy. OSA is committed to improving gender equity and providing programming aimed at strengthening diversity and inclusion in optics and photonics.

 OSA continues to honor Katherine Johnson’s legacy through various celebrations and events including Women’s History Month in March and  the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on 11 February. For both celebrations, the OSA Foundation and OSA proudly share tributes of women and mentors on the OSA website and social media. You can share your special tribute to women in your field by visiting the Special Tributes Page

Through a number of OSA Foundation diversity and inclusion grants, OSA seeks to promote the very themes that Johnson exemplified throughout her career. You can learn more about OSA’s diversity and inclusivity initiatives by visiting:


Posted: 2 March 2020 by James Merrick, OSA Senior PR and Communications Manager | with 0 comments

The views expressed by guest contributors to the Discover OSA Blog are not those endorsed by The Optical Society.