African American Professors at NJIT Excel in Research and in Mentoring Younger African Americans

NEWARK, Jan. 31--African Americans, long underrepresented in science and technology, are making strides in these fields, thanks in part to the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT). The university ranks 11th in the United States for the number of African-American engineers it graduates, and it has a distinguished and growing African-American faculty. The professors not only excel academically but have also spent endless hours mentoring and helping African Americans.

Following are short biographies of four NJIT professors who've worked to improve the quality of African-American life.

Anthony M. Johnson, of Freehold Township, Ph.D., distinguished professor of physics and chairperson of the physics department, was recently elected president of the Optical Society of America. Johnson is considered one of the leading researchers and educators in high-speed optics and telecommunications. And he is also actively involved in the recruitment and retention of minorities and females in the sciences.

Johnson is featured in a Black History Month exhibit, "A Celebration of Excellence: African Americans in Science," now at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. The exhibit, which runs through March 1, highlights significant contributions in science made by African Americans.

Johnson was one of only four African Americans in the country to receive a doctorate in physics in 1981. He was formerly a distinguished member of the technical staff at AT&T Bell Labs.

"I've been very fortunate," Johnson says. "I never imagined that I would be president of the Optical Society of America." He recalls that at his first OSA committee meeting in the early 1980s, as the only black person present, he was mistaken for a waiter. Now, some 20 years later, his daughter, Kimberly, is a freshman at NJIT, where she is studying information technology.


Barry Jackson, of Montclair, associate professor of architecture, has taught at NJIT since 1977. In addition to teaching, Jackson, of Montclair, is associate director of the Simulation Animation and Modeling Laboratory at NJIT and a research associate of the New Jersey Center for Multimedia Research, also located at NJIT. His specialty is multimedia as it applies to visualization in architecture, art and engineering.

His work, however, is not restricted to the classroom. He is leading an effort to help the Clinton-Hill neighborhood, Newark, obtain funds from New Jersey Office of State Planning. Through participation in the Clinton Hill Community Collaborative, a neighborhood group, Jackson hopes to aid in the community's revitalization.

Jackson, who previously worked for one of the first African-American architecture firms -- Fisher- Jackson -- has restored housing in inner city neighborhoods such as Bedford Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, N.Y. and Berkeley, Calif.


Treena Livingston, Ph.D., of Jersey City, recently hired as an assistant professor of biomedical engineering, is doing research that could have profound effects upon medicine. She is developing technologies to facilitate bone regrowth. Livingston works with stem cells that are capable of transforming into various connective tissues such as bone and cartilage. From a small volume of bone marrow, the stem cells can be expanded into billions of cells - making them perfect for tissue engineering. Livingston found that the cells could be combined with calcium phosphate to induce bone formation.

She is also researching stem cells that could be used to treat neurological disorders.

And she, too, has not restricted her work to the university. Livingston has tutored and mentored minority high school students and given workshops on why they should choose engineering as a career. She is a member of the National Society of Black Engineers.


Janice Daniel, Ph.D., recently hired as an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering, is doing academic research that could make the roads safer for all. She specializes in designing anti-congestion strategies for traffic operations.

Working with the New Jersey Department of Transportation, Daniel is identifying factors that contribute to truck crashes in the state and recommending technologies that could reduce these accidents. Her recent publications include an analysis of data on fatal crashes in highway work zones.

Daniel also helps to recruit more women and minorities into engineering. Daniel participated in a panel on careers for women in transportation. She is also an active member of her church, where she teaches and mentors children. She is originally from Trinidad but grew up in the Bronx, N.Y.


NJIT is a public, scientific and technological research university enrolling more than 8,800 students. The university offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees to students in 80 degree programs throughout its six colleges: Newark College of Engineering, New Jersey School of Architecture, College of Science and Liberal Arts, School of Management, Albert Dorman Honors College and College of Computing Sciences. The division of continuing professional education offers adults eLearning, off campus degrees and short courses. Expertise and research initiatives include architecture and building science, applied mathematics, biomedical engineering, environmental engineering and science, information technology, manufacturing, materials, microelectronics, multimedia, telecommunications, transportation and solar astrophysics. Yahoo! Internet Life magazine cites NJIT as a "perennially most wired" university.

Contact Information:   Sheryl Weinstein
Robert Florida
Public Relations 
(973) 596-3433