JRF Alumni: Where Are They Now? Wilton L. Virgo

June 10, 2015 - Alumni

JRF Alumnus Wilton L. Virgo, PhD (Princeton University, JRF Class of 2000) is a quantum physical chemist with more than 10 years of expertise in performing state-of-the-art research in laser spectroscopy and molecular quantum theory at Princeton University, Brookhaven National Laboratory, Arizona State University, MIT, Wellesley College and Harvard University. He is a leader in initiatives to enhance the educational outcomes for underrepresented populations and prepare underserved students for rewarding careers in STEM.

“The Jackie Robinson Foundation facilitated my success as a Princeton undergraduate, helping to launch my scientific career at its earliest stage,” said Dr. Virgo. “The scholarship enabled me to continue the legacy of Jackie Robinson as the first African American Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Chemistry at MIT.”

Dr. Virgo has been an innovative leader in science education, using cutting-edge technology and scientific visualization. His book, Quantum Mechanics in Everyday Life, is an example of his ability to simplify complex ideas for audiences with little or no background in science. Quantum Mechanics in Everyday Life introduces quantum physics as the foundation for understanding global climate change and as the basis for modern technology that we use every day, such as GPS and our high-speed telecommunications system.

In order to engage young students using smart device technology, Dr. Virgo wrote The Equations of Chemistry, an interactive, multi-touch ebook designed to bring the mathematics of chemistry alive on the iPad. Dr. Virgo’s latest work as a host and narrator of “Chemistry: Challenges and Solutions,” a visual MOOC produced by Harvard-Smithsonian and the Annenberg Foundation, demonstrates his ability to effectively communicate science in simple language with advanced graphics and animation.

To watcch a fun video example of Dr. Virgo’s teaching,click here.


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