Badass Scientist of the Week: Dr. Aprille Ericsson
Aprille Ericsson (1963–) is an aerospace engineer and the first African American woman to receive a Ph.D. in Engineering at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.
Ericsson spent her childhood in Brooklyn, New York, where she cultivated an interest in science and mathematics. She attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) where she received a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering, and during her undergrad, she worked on a variety of projects geared towards manned space flight, which motivated her to attend Howard University to gain her Masters and her PhD in Mechanical Engineering (Aerospace).
She went on to receive a PhD in Engineering at the Goddard Space Flight Center, becoming the first African American female to do so, and has applied to NASA’s astronaut program.
Eriscsson is currently working as an aerospace engineer at GSFC, where she designs and tests spacecraft, so if you think of any major space missions over the last twenty years, there’s a good chance Ericsson was involved in their success.
She’s also a motivational speaker and a mentor to mainly girls and minorities, and has commented: “I feel obligated to continue to help spur the interest of minorities and females in the math, science and engineering disciplines. Without diversity in all fields the United States will not remain technically competitive.”
Among other honours, Ericsson has also won four NASA awards for excellence and the 1997 ‘Women in Science and Engineering’ award for the best female engineer in the federal government.