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Dean Hammonds began her tenure as dean of Harvard College on June 1, 2008. Prior to her appointment as dean, she served as Harvard University’s first Senior Vice Provost for Faculty Development and Diversity beginning in July 2005. She is also the Barbara Gutmann Rosenkrantz Professor of the History of Science and of African and African American Studies.
Dean Hammonds joined the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in 2002 after teaching at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where she was also the founding director of the Center for the Study of Diversity in Science, Technology and Medicine. Her scholarly interests include the history of scientific, medical, and sociopolitical concepts of race and sexuality, the history of disease and public health, gender in science and medicine, and African-American history. She is the author of “Childhood's Deadly Scourge: The Campaign to Control Diphtheria in New York City, 1880-1930”, many scholarly articles and the co-editor of a book published this past fall entitled, “The Nature of Difference: Sciences of Race in the United States from Jefferson to Genomics.”
Dean Hammonds was born in Atlanta Georgia in 1953. Her mother was a school teacher and her father was a postal worker. She grew up in the wake of segregation and was forced to deal with racism growing up. Hammonds attended public school in the south and in 1976 earned her first two degrees: a Bachelor of Science in physics from Spelman College and a Bachelor in Electrical Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology. She then went on to earn a master’s degree in physics from MIT, and a Ph.D. in the history of science from Harvard. During her time at MIT, Dean Hammonds realized she was one of only a handful of Black graduate students in the country studying physics, and she never lost the passion to do something about that. Throughout her career she has worked to encourage more minorities and women to pursue careers in science.
Dean Hammonds was a postdoctoral fellow in the School of Social Science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. and also served as a Sigma Xi Distinguished Lecturer from 2003 to 2005. Currently she is an associate member of the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT while also serving on a number of boards including the Social Science Research Council, the Board of Overseers of the Museum of Science in Boston, and the Association of American Colleges and Universities. She holds an honorary doctorate of humane letters from her alma mater, Spelman College. In February 2008, she was named a fellow of the Association of Women in Science (AWIS) and earlier this year, named to the National Science Foundation’s Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering.