Dr. Linda Hayden has been selected to be included as a Spotlight Scientist in the 2010 NSF printing of The HistoryMakers. Each year The HistoryMakers Project has committed to creating a ScienceMakers Toolkit to be distributed to science centers, organizational partners, community groups, and educators.  The Toolkit is a manual for educators to use in their curriculum to inform students about the achievements of African Americans in S.T.E.M. disciplines.  It includes Scientist Spotlights with quick facts about each person as well as discussion questions, an experiment related to the person’s field of work, and vocabulary for students.

1 Movie Clip of Interview
Name: Linda Hayden
Birth Date: February 4, 1949
Birth Place: Portsmouth, Virginia
Parents: Mr. Linwood Copeland Bailey and Mrs. Sarah Vaughan Bailey
Spouse: Mr. Lee Vertner Hayden Jr.
Education: I. C. Norcom High School, Virginia State University, University of Cincinnati, Old Dominion University, American University
Types of Science: Mathematics and Computer Science
Achievements: 2003 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring by the National Science Foundation

Mathematician Linda Bailey Hayden was born on February 4, 1949 in Portsmouth, Virginia to Sarah Vaughn Bailey and Linwood Copeland Bailey Sr.  Growing up, Hayden loved mathematics, particularly graphing functions and determining their characteristics.  She attended Portsmouth’s Public Schools for her elementary and secondary education.  Hayden was the first of her family to attend college, and her family was not surprised that she chose to concentrate her studies in math and science.  Pulling together the funds that her family could provide, as well as a scholarship to cover her tuition, Hayden attended Virginia State University and graduated in 1970 with her B.S. degree in mathematics and physics.  At Virginia State University, Hayden’s math professors, Dr. Ruben McDaniel Jr. and Dr. Louise Hunter, made an impression on Hayden through their style and enthusiasm for the material.  Hayden went on to attain her M.A. degree in math education from the University of Cincinnati just two years later.

Hayden began her teaching career as an instructor of mathematics at the Kentucky State University in 1972 and the University of Kentucky in 1976.  Three years later, she became an assistant professor of mathematics at Norfolk State University.  During her tenure at Norfolk State University, she received her second M.S. degree in computer science from Old Dominion University.  She then became an assistant professor of computer science at American University in 1985, where she pursued further graduate studies and received her Ph.D. degree in mathematics education in 1988.  Her dissertation was entitled: “The Impact of an Intervention Program for High Ability Minority Students on Rates of High School Graduation, College enrollment, and Choice of a Quantitative Major.”  After a two year term at the University of the District of Columbia, Hayden moved on to become a full professor of computer science at Elizabeth State University in 1989.  She has been influential in her position on the faculty of the university, particularly in the foundation and implementation of the Center of Excellence in Remote Sensing Education and Research program.  One of the project’s topics of interest is the cyber-infrastructure support for remote sensing of ice sheets, which is of great importance in polar science field research. Other interests of Hayden include Grid Networks and the PolarGrid Project.  In addition her funding efforts have resulted in millions of dollars in scholarship and fellowship for underrepresented students in mathematics, science and technology fields.

Hayden has been the recipient of several awards recognizing her commitment to education and the sciences. She was honored with the 2003 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring by the National Science Foundation, and in 2009, she was given the National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education Noble Prize.

Hayden is married to Lee Vertner Hayden Jr. and they have raised one son, Kuchumbi Linwood Hayden.

Discussion Questions

  1. What was the most interesting thing you learned about Dr. Hayden?
  2. Where was Dr. Hayden born? Locate it on a map. How far away is this from where you live? What are the names of her parents? Where did Dr. Hayden attend high school? What do you suppose high school was like for her?
  3. How old are you? In what year was Dr. Hayden your age? What was happening in the country that year? What was happening in the world that year? What do you suppose her life was like when she was your age?
  4. What do you think a mathematician does? Would you like to be a mathematician? Why?
  5. If you were a mathematician, what kinds of questions would you study?
  6. Dr. Hayden was the first in her family to go to college.  Have you been the first in your family to do something in particular?    
  7. Dr. Hayden’s math professor impressed her.  Have you had a teacher or mentor that really made an impression on you?  Were you encouraged to try something new because of that person?
  8. What connections does mathematics have to computer science?  What connections does it have to physics?


Grid networks
A kind of computer network consisting of a number of (computer) systems connected in a grid topology.

Ice sheets
A mass of glacier ice that covers surrounding terrain and is greater than 50,000 km² (20,000 mile²), thus also known as continental glacier.

Remote sensing
The small or large-scale acquisition of information of an object or phenomenon, by the use of either recording or real-time sensing device(s) that are wireless, or not in physical or intimate contact with the object.