MLK Regional Celebration
Ruth D. Jones, Ph.D.
Branch Chief for Industrial Safety Branch
NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Alabama
Ruth D. Jones, Ph.D., is the branch chief for industrial safety at NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Dr. Jones directs and manages safety and mission assurance functions and activities in support of Marshall Space Flight Center institutional operations.
Jones is a trailblazer. She became the first woman to receive a bachelor’s degree in physics from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff in 1994. Six years later, she was the second African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in physics in the state of Alabama when she graduated from Alabama A&M University. In her career, Jones thrived in an industry where professionals rarely looked like her. Many of her peers are male. And most are white.
Lauded as one of NASA’s Modern Figures, Jones travels the nation as a motivational speaker in hopes of inspiring youths to seek careers in the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. She also wants to serve as a role model for other women and minorities.
“No matter what your color is, no matter what your gender is, what matters is what’s in your head,” she said in a 2017 interview. “For the ones who made it out and have good jobs, we need to go back to those communities and serve as role models to show those students that STEM is the way to go.”
During her career, she received awards including the Center Director’s Commendation honor from Marshall Space Flight Center and Glenn Research Center as well as the Extraordinary Achievements in Aerospace Engineering award presented by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
Jones provides scholarships to students active in her home church, First Baptist Church, in West Helena, Arkansas. She also hosts a “Science Day” at the schools she attended before college.