Jamila Simpson, assistant dean for academic programs, student diversity and engagement in the College of Sciences, was one of three 2017 recipients of the Morehead Medal of Science from UNC-Chapel Hill’s Morehead Planetarium and Science Center. This year’s awardees were recognized for being female scientists of color who have made significant strides for minorities in STEM disciplines. She received her honor at the planetarium’s annual Jupiter Ball on Nov. 17.
Simpson was the first African-American woman to receive her bachelor’s degree in meteorology from NC State in 2000. She then went on to obtain her master’s and Ph.D. in science education, also from NC State. After graduation, Simpson worked at Morehead Planetarium and Science Center with a science education initiative that served pre-college teachers and students across North Carolina.
At NC State, Simpson works to enhance the recruitment, retention and graduation of minority students who are traditionally underrepresented in the sciences. Under her leadership, her office has won an Outstanding College Performance Award from NC State’s Office of Multicultural Student Affairs. She has also helped NC State become one of the nation’s leading universities for the number of science degrees it grants to underrepresented minorities.
Simpson also serves as the faculty adviser for the Sciences Ambassadors, Sciences Council and the Society for Multicultural Scientists.
She is also part of the planetarium’s Hidden No More: STEM Women of Color speaker tour, in which four prominent female scientists of color are holding panel discussions on what it’s like to be leaders in their fields and how to expand diversity in STEM education.