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5 STEM Heroes to Celebrate on Native American Heritage Month

5 STEM Heroes to Celebrate on Native American Heritage Month

It's time to recognize some of the finest minds in the realms of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) who belong to the Native American community. Let's dive into the inspiring journeys of these trailblazers.

Find a Google Slides of all of our 2023 STEM Heroes: Native American Heritage Month edition that you can make a copy of or download as a PowerPoint for class, home, school, or lab!

Fred Begay - The Pioneer Physicist & Researcher

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Fred Begay, a distinguished Navajo physicist, ventured into the field of nuclear fusion as an alternative energy source. His quest for high-energy gamma rays and solar neutrinos at Los Alamos Lab is a testament to his dedication and commitment to his field. His work serves as a beacon for aspiring physicists, encouraging them to go beyond conventional boundaries.


Bertha "Birdie" Parker Cody - The Trailblazing Archaeologist

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Bertha "Birdie" Parker Cody, an Abenaki and Seneca archaeologist, is renowned for discovering the skull of an extinct giant ground sloth at Gypsum Cave in Las Vegas. This significant discovery provided evidence of human presence in North America during that time. Her work spanned various other important archaeological sites, making substantial contributions to our understanding of ancient history.


Aaron Yazzie - The Mechanical Engineer with a Space Vision

Photo by: Aaron Yazzie‘s LinkedIn

Aaron Yazzie, a Mechanical Engineer at NASA JPL, has made quite a mark with his focus on designing mechanical systems for robotic space research missions, particularly for Mars. His passion for STEM outreach has been recognized and lauded, and he has been instrumental in promoting science education among Indigenous communities.


Jerry C. Elliott - The Space Mission Savior

Photo by: Sooner Magazine

Jerry C. Elliott, an Osage-Cherokee physicist and former NASA Flight Mission Operations Engineer, is remembered for his key role during the Apollo 13 mission. Following an oxygen tank explosion, Elliott was the lead retrofire officer, steering the crew safely back to Earth. His heroic efforts earned him the Presidential Medal of Freedom.


Mary Golda Ross - The Aerospace Engineer & Educator

Photo by: Sooner Magazine

Mary Golda Ross was an extraordinary NASA mathematician and engineer who pivotally sent Apollo astronauts into space. Her contributions extended to the development of Lockheed Martin's P-38 Lightning fighter plane, and she worked on top-secret rocket and missile systems. Ross also had a hand in writing NASA's Planetary Flight Handbook, further cementing her legacy in the field of aerospace engineering.

These remarkable individuals serve as shining examples of the potential that lies within each of us, irrespective of our backgrounds. Their stories inspire us to strive for excellence in our pursuits and to create a positive impact in our chosen fields.

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