Evelynn Hammonds

February 20, 2020

The National Society of Black Physicists honors Dr. Evelynn Hammonds. Among her many accomplishments, she was a former Dean of Harvard College, the first African-American and the first woman to head the College.

evelynn hammondsDr. Evelynn Hammonds was born in Atlanta, Georgia in 1953. She obtained bachelor's degrees in physics and electrical engineering from Spelman College and Georgia Tech, respectively. She went on to confer her master's in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) before competing her Ph.D. in the history of science from Harvard University. Once she finished her Ph.D., Hammonds was hired by MIT where she eventually rose to the position of associate professor. Later, Dr. Hammonds returned to Harvard University in 2002 to accept a joint appointment as professor of the history of science and African American Studies. She is currently the Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science and Professor of African and African-American Studies at Harvard University. She is also the chair of the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University.

Dr. Hammonds research focused on gender and race in science and medicine. Her scholarly work spanned the gamut from historical analysis to addressing contemporary issues of race and gender. Dr. Hammonds is the author of “Childhood's Deadly Scourge: The Campaign to Control Diphtheria in New York City, 1880-1930”. She is currently completing a history of biological, medical, and anthropological uses of racial concepts entitled, The Logic of Difference: A History of Race in Science and Medicine in the United States , 1850–1990.

Legacy - Progress at MIT and Harvard.

During her time at MIT, Hammonds was the founding director of the MIT's Center for Diversity in Science, Technology and Medicine. Scholars at the CSD examine both the impact of diversity on the theory and practice of science, medicine, and technology, and the contributions of racial and ethnic minorities to those fields.  after serving as the Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity. She was the first person to hold this position after Harvard created it, and in it she supported the recruitment and promotion of minorities and women at the university. In 2008, Hammonds was appointed dean of Harvard College, the first African-American and the first woman to head the College. She served as dean until she rejoined ranks of professor in 2013. Dr. Hammonds has always enjoyed working with students and has said she thinks it is especially important for minority students to have minority faculty available as role models.