On February 1st, 2008, the Jefferson Literary and Debating Society
began its spring season of lectures with a presentation from Dr. Wesley Harris
, the Chair of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT. Harris was the first African-American to finish the Engineering Honors program at the University of Virginia
. Over four decades later, Harris is currently working on a new algorithm to help unlock the genetics of sickle cell anemia. But his talk at the Jefferson Society covered Harris’s efforts to encourage young people, especially minorities, to pursue career in science and math.
Dr. Harris answers questions on whether we should be sending to astronauts to Mars, the future of NASA, his thoughts on private space enterprises, and how experience at UVa shaped his life. While a student, Harris was one of the people responsible for bringing Martin Luther King Jr. to Grounds in the spring of 1963.