Left to right: William McWorter Jr, PhD (OSU ’63); Thyrsa Frazier Svager, PhD (OSU’65); Carolyn Mahoney, PhD (OSU’83).


The official blog of Ohio State University’s highly anticipated project –



Dynamic History and Narratives of Ohio State’s Black Mathematicians


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Highlighting the Stories of Black Mathematicians

Our university-sponsored research project looks to inspire institutional, regional and national reform related to representation and the educational experiences of Black Americans in the mathematical sciences by showcasing the stories and achievement of the nearly 200 Black-identified individuals who earned degrees in mathematics from The Ohio State University, but whose stories remain hidden.

Ohio State’s Black mathematicians lead accomplished lives as prolific researchers, authors, high school teachers, economists, department chairs, lawyers, OSU personnel and university presidents. Our case study celebrates their achievements, helps researchers better understand the greater narrative of Black mathematicians in the United States and informs institutional change.

This project is funded by the Ohio State Office of Research and Global Arts and Humanities Discovery Theme.

Why this Research is Necessary

Access to quality educational experiences and professional opportunities in mathematics is a social justice issue.

Black people are underrepresented in the mathematical sciences at all levels of US higher education. Presently, there are only a dozen tenure-track Black professors of mathematics at the top 50 research institutions across the United States. This lack of representation within academe directly affects representation in careers related to the mathematical sciences.

Our project aims to create better opportunities for students, faculty, and the public at large to learn about the history of Black mathematicians. We use the stories and knowledge from our research to create presentations, lesson plans, and other educational resources that will spread the word about these incredible mathematicians.

Explore our LessonsSee our Events

On the left: Newspaper clipping of William McWorter, the first Black person to earn a PhD in Mathematics from The Ohio State University featured in the school newspaper with a stick figure structure. On the top right: Newspaper image of speaker elevated amongst crowd at a campus protest during the Black Student Movement at The Ohio State University. On the bottom right: Photo of Rada Higgins as a high school student as a part of the Ross Mathematics Program at The Ohio State University.

What’s your Story?

Our team aspires to provide the most detailed and historically accurate content of our Ohio State Hidden Figures, and we want your help! If you would like to participate in our project by sharing your experiences studying mathematics at Ohio State, or if you know of any resources that connect to our hidden figures—whether it be a newspaper clipping, a page from a book, or a photograph—please email us at BlackMathStory@osu.edu.



Banner Photo Credits:

“William A. McWorter” provided by William McWorter III, https://www.legacy.com/us/obituaries/dispatch/name/william-mcworter-obituary?id=26295371.

“Thyrsa Frazier Svager” by Mr. Aleksandar Svager (public domain)

“2005-2012: Dr. Carolyn Mahoney” provided by Blue Tiger Commons at Lincoln University, https://bluetigercommons.lincolnu.edu/presidents/19/.

“What’s Your Story?” Photo Credits:

“Newspaper clip of William McWorter” provided by The Ohio State University Archives.

“Student Speaking at Demonstration” provided by the Spring of Dissent page, https://library.osu.edu/site/dissent/background/.

“Rada Higgins in 1965 Ross Mathematics Program Group Photo” by The Ross Mathematics Program, https://rossprogram.org/alumni/group-photos/.