St. Lawrence University Trustee Derrick H. Pitts '78, chief astronomer and
director of the Fels Planetarium in Philadelphia, PA, has been named one of
the "50 Most Important Blacks in Research Science" for 2004, as selected by
Science Spectrum magazine and Career Communications Group, Inc.
Pitts was chosen based on his lifelong work and accomplishments in making
science part of global society. Pitts and his fellow honorees were cited as
role models for young people whose accomplishments are examples of the
significant daily contributions made by the small cadre of African Americans
in the field. In a survey by the National Science Foundation of 708,200
scientists, only 43,000 were black and Hispanic.
The "50 Most Important Blacks in Research Science" were featured in the
September edition of Science Spectrum magazine, published by Career
Communications Group, Inc., and distributed to 15,000 scientists and
graduate and undergraduate students throughout the U.S. Science Spectrum
is a career development publication geared toward multicultural communities
designed to increase the number of minorities entering science fields.
Science Spectrum's honorees were celebrated at an event during the ninth
annual Emerald Honors Conference for Research Science.
A press release from the Fels Planetarium states, "Pitts, the region's
foremost astronomy authority, has been a vital component to the Franklin
Institute for over two decades. After joining the Institute in 1978 as a
museum educator, Pitts advanced to his position as chief astronomer and
planetarium director in 1990. In 2002, he oversaw the renovation of the
Fels Planetarium and was integrally involved in the design of 'Space Command,'
the Institute's new astronomy exhibit. Pitts twice modernized and redesigned
the Institute's observatory.
"Pitts is the Franklin Institute's spokesperson in earth and space sciences
to countless media outlets. He co-hosts the award-winning astronomy programs
'Sky Talk' and 'Sky Tour,' which he developed together with WHYY-FM (Philadelphia's
PBS affiliate). In addition, he appears twice monthly on WXPN's 'Kids Corner,'
a local children's radio program.
"He has been called upon by the 'Today Show,' 'Good Morning America' the 'CBS
Morning News' and 'Newton's Apple' to appear as a science advisor and appears
frequently on MSNBC. Pitts has also written astronomy columns for the
Philadelphia Inquirer, for South Jersey's largest daily newspaper, the
Courier-Post, and has been featured in articles in the Inquirer's Sunday
magazine, Mid-Atlantic magazine, Time magazine, Home & Garden and the
Philadelphia Tribune, the nation's oldest continuously published African
"Active in the community, Pitts finds time to visit school classes and is
a member of Tuskegeee Airmen Incorporated, Philadelphia chapter. His career
has been recognized with one of Philadelphia's highest honors, the Liberty
Bell Award. He is also a recipient of the George Washington Carver
Scientist of the Year Award and is a 2004 inductee into the Germantown
Historical Society's Hall of Fame."
Posted: October 22, 2004