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Alumni Highlight

Dr. Ruth Jones ’94

Dr. Ruth D. Jones, a member of the UAPB AM&N National Alumni Association Board of Directors, was recently honored by the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB), Pepsi and Essence for her achievements.

She Got Now recognized Dr. Jones as part of their virtual HBCU Homecoming Celebration held in October 2020. “We honored HBCU pride and our 2020 She Got Now Honorees with the spirit they deserve,” the website stated in describing the two-day event.

Dr. Jones is acting deputy director at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans, LA. She is responsible for the day-to-day management of the multi-tenant manufacturing facility, where NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion spacecraft are being built.

In 1994, Dr. Jones received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Physics from the University of Arkansas in Pine Bluff. She continued her formal education at Alabama A & M University, where she received her Doctorate of Philosophy and Masters of Science degrees in Physics/Materials Science. She is the second African American woman to receive a Ph.D. in Physics in the state of Alabama, and the first woman to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from the prestigious University of Arkansas, Pine Bluff.

The author of numerous articles on optical physics, Dr. Jones is a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), the International System Safety Society, the American Physical Society, SPIE (the international society for optics and photonics) and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated.

Her professional commendations and awards include such honors as the Center Director’s Commendation from Marshall Space Flight Center and Glenn Research Center, Wings of Excellence from Cleveland’s Federal Executive Board, Government and Industry Leadership Awarded presented by Alabama A & M University Alumni Association, and Extraordinary Achievements in Aerospace Engineering presented by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. She has been recognized as one of the six Women Succeeding in Male-Dominated Fields (Daily Worth magazine, October 13, 2014).  She is also a co-author/contributor to the Society of Women Engineers’ (SWE) first eBook, “Be That Engineer:  Inspiration and Insight from Accomplished Women Engineers.” She is lauded as one of NASA’s Modern Figures (https://www.nasa.gov/modernfigures, https://www.nasa.gov/centers/marshall/feature/where-the-past-meets-the-present-marshall-figures-recognized).

Dr. Jones’ community involvement includes awarding two scholarships to deserving students who are active in her home church, First Baptist Church in West Helena, AR and she holds a “Science Day” at her former elementary, Jr. High and High Schools in West Helena to encourage students to take more math and science as well as illustrate the importance of education.

Dr. Jones considers herself as a role model because she has succeeded in a male dominant field, Physics. Throughout her educational career she has never had a female professor or a black professor; therefore, Dr. Jones feels by teaching she can show young girls that women can excel in science, math, and the physical sciences as well or better than anyone. One of her goals is to help young people, particularly minorities in small towns, understand the excitement, opportunities and enjoyment in pursuing a STEM career.

A native of West Helena, Dr. Ruth Jones is the daughter of William and Essie Jones.