February 21, 2020
The National Society of Black Physicists honors Dr. Marta Dark McNeese. Dr. McNeese is a professor of physics at Spelman College. She endeavors to be a mentor to other young women interested in a STEM career, particularly in physics.
Marta Dark McNeese grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland. She attended the University of Virginia, where she received a BS in Physics, and appears to be the first African American woman to do so. Upon completing her studies at the University of Virginia, she received a PhD in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology working in the biomedical laser research group of the late Professor Michael Feld. She returned to the Washington DC area as a postdoctoral associate at the Naval Research Laboratory. Her research interests are in laser interactions with biological tissues and biomolecules. Marta is currently doing research at Spelman College on techniques using laser light to "weld" a special glue to knee cartilage, repairing tears and strengthening the tissue. In addition to meeting the challenge of optimizing the composition of the glue, Marta also has to ensure that the heat from the laser does not damage the cartilage itself.
Legacy - Mentoring women and young people in physics
Since 2000, Dr. Dark has been a professor at Spelman College in Atlanta. Her decision to join Spelman came from a desire to champion the field of physics as a viable career option for African American women. Dr. Dark enjoys teaching physics at all undergraduate levels, from astronomy for non-science majors to quantum mechanics. She volunteers with elementary school students in Atlanta giving demonstrations in physical science. She is a member of the American Physical Society, the National Society of Black Physicists, and the American Association of Physics Teachers. She has served on the APS Committee on Minorities, Panel on Public Affairs, and as a General Councillor. Dr. Dark lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children.