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Alumnae Stories

Leona Harris Treasures Her Magnificent Mathematical Journey

April 2021

Spelman Alumna Leonora Harris Gives Etta Falconer LectureLeona A. Harris, Ph.D., C'95, is an energetic, innovative, and meticulous professional with over 20 years of experience in research, education, and administration. Dr. Harris currently serves as a Program Analyst in the Office of Science at the Center for Tobacco Products of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

In this role, she focuses on data analysis, data assessment and integration, and data visualization. Prior to joining FDA, Dr. Harris was an associate professor of mathematics and chair of the Division of Sciences and Mathematics at the University of the District of Columbia. In addition, Dr. Harris spent ten years at the College of New Jersey where she held several leadership roles. She is an accomplished educator with experience teaching all levels of undergraduate mathematics courses to diverse populations of students including first-generation college students, transfer students, and adult learners at several colleges and universities.

Large Blue Quote LeftWhenever I reflect back on my years as a student in the Spelman College mathematics department, I cannot help but boast about the many lessons I learned that have shaped my professional trajectory, my world view and civic responsibility, and my commitment to diversifying the mathematical sciences.

Dr. Harris is the executive director and past interim president of the National Association of Mathematicians; and is a co-founder of the Infinite Possibilities Conference. Throughout her career, she has forged strong partnerships with a broad range of college faculty and professionals in education, industry, and government through academic support programs, interdisciplinary research, curriculum and program development, and professional association engagement. She has demonstrated a commitment to increasing the numbers of minorities and women pursuing careers and higher degrees in science and mathematics through her involvement in a variety of local and national diversity initiatives.

She graduated magna cum laude from Spelman College with a B.S. in mathematics and earned her M.S. and Ph.D. in applied mathematics from North Carolina State University as a National Physical Science Consortium fellow. After graduate school, she completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  She has a proven track record of success in data analysis, mathematical modeling, and computer programming and simulation, as an applied mathematician specializing in mathematical biology.

Leona Harris Gives Etta Falconer Lecture at Spelman

Dr. Harris will deliver the 16th Annual Etta Falconer Lecture, "The Making of a Mathematician Through Inspiration, Empowerment, and Mentorship: Reflections on My Mathematical Journey," on April 15, 2021 at 5:30 p.m.


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