MLK professors and scholars named


Two MIT alumni have been named Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Professors, joining two holdover appointees on campus this semester. Two Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Visiting Scholars have also been named.

The new MLK Visiting Professors are Sekazi Kauze Mtingwa (S.B. in physics and S.B. in mathematics, 1971), a physics professor at North Carolina A&T State University; and Eni Gerald Njoku (S.M. 1974 and Ph.D. 1976, both in electrical engineering), a research scientist at Caltech's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

The new visiting scholars are Edna Ambundo, a postdoctoral trainee in the Department of Chemistry, and Otis B. Jennings, who taught at the Stanford University School of Business last semester.

The continuing visiting professors are Raul P. Lejano of the University of California at Irvine and J. Phillip Thompson, an associate professor of political science at Columbia University, both in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning.

The MLK Visiting Professors were welcomed to MIT on Oct. 3 at a reception hosted by Provost Robert A. Brown, who heads the program. Among those at the reception were their department heads, Chancellor Phillip L. Clay, and the co-chairs of the Planning Committee for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration, Professor Michael S. Feld and Dean Leo Osgood.

Brown noted the key role that the MLK Visiting Professors Program plays in the "critical" drive to increase faculty diversity at MIT. "This is not just an issue of race," he said. "It is also an issue of approach."

Feld said the visiting professors were role models ("and not just for students") who provide "a perspective that would otherwise be lacking." Addressing the visiting professors and scholars directly, he said, "We stand ready to work with you as you embark on your plan of engagement."


Mtingwa, who received an M.A. and Ph.D. from Princeton in 1976, will be in the physics department, working in the Laboratory for Nuclear Science. He joined North Carolina A&T's physics department in 1991 and served as department chair from 1991-94. He received the National Society of Black Physicists' Outstanding Service Award in 1996 and was also among the first inductees into the African-American Biographies Hall of Fame in Atlanta in 1994. In addition to North Carolina A&T, Mtingwa has taught at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Rochester and Morgan State University.

His research interests have been mainly in the area of high-energy particle accelerators. He made important contributions to the design and construction of the accelerator systems used in the discovery of the top quark at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. With James Bjorken of Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, he developed a widely used theory that describes the behavior of particle beams as they travel around accelerators. Mtingwa is now pursuing studies of the physics and uses of future accelerators.

Njoku, who received the B.A. in natural sciences/electrical sciences from Cambridge University in 1972, will work in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. A research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory since 1990, he is a principal investigator in two areas, satellite soil moisture estimation and the technology of large microwave radiometric antennas. He was program manager for earth science data and information systems at NASA from 1986-90 and taught at Harvey Mudd College from 1984-86.

Ambundo earned the Ph.D. from Wayne State University in Detroit in 2000 and the B.Sc. from the University of Nairobi in Kenya in 1994, both in chemistry. She is a member of the Phi Lambda Upsilon National Chemistry Honor Society and the American Chemical Society.

Jennings will be visiting the Sloan School of Management. He received the M.S. in operations research in 1999 and the Ph.D. in industrial and systems engineering in 2000, both from Georgia Tech, after earning the B.S.E. in operations research from Princeton in 1994. He has received an Intel Graduate Fellowship, the Georgia Tech President's Fellowship, the Bell Laboratories Cooperative Research Fellowship and the National Science Foundation Graduate Fellowship.


Lejano earned the Ph.D. in environmental health science and a D.Env. in environmental science and engineering from the University of California at Los Angeles. He also holds the B.S. in civil engineering from the University of the Philippines and the M.S. in environmental engineering from the University of California at Berk-eley. He taught at UCLA from 1996-2000 and is now an assistant professor in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of California at Irvine.

Thompson earned the Ph.D. in political science from the City University of New York in 1990. He received the B.A. in sociology from Harvard University in 1977 and the M.C.P. in urban planning from Hunter College in 1986. He was deputy general manager and head of the Mayor's Office of Housing in New York during the Dinkins administration.

The MLK Visiting Professors Program, established in 1995 through the efforts of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Planning Committee, is open to members of all minority groups. The objective is to support six to 12 MLK Visiting Professors and Scholars in each academic year.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on October 17, 2001.

Topics: Awards, honors and fellowships

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