Born in 1923, J. Ernest Wilkins Jr. was a prominent African American mathematician and physicist. As a child, he was of the youngest students to ever attend college, enrolling at the University of Chicago when he was just 13-years old.
Wilkins researched methods for producing fissionable nuclear materials, focusing in particular on plutonium-239, in collaboration with Arthur Compton and Enrico Fermi, who later went on to create the first-ever nuclear reactor.
Wilkins was often referred to by the media as a “negro genius”.
He sadly died in 2011, but his legacy lives on.