Lakiesha Claude Williams
Since she was a young girl growing up in New Orleans, LA, Lakiesha Claude Williams dreamed of becoming a physician. She always had an aptitude for science and loved caring for others in need.
Yet her plans to work as a medical doctor changed during her senior year of high school at St. Mary’s Academy, when a teacher introduced her to the world of mathematics.
Fast-forward to present day, Dr. Lakiesha N. Williams is an associate professor of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Mississippi State University. She was the first African-American to get a graduate degree in biological engineering from Louisiana State University , the first African-American to earn a doctorate in biomedical engineering from Mississippi State University, and the first female faculty member in her current department.
Williams also contributes to several outreach programs geared to female engineers in the Mississippi State area and is one of the co-advisors to the Society of Women Engineers at MSU.
Her research focuses on the biomechanics of traumatic brain and leg injuries and how tissues and organs are damaged while developing measures to protect tissues and organs. She and her team then use that data to create safety gear for soldiers and athletes to help them prevent those types of injuries in the future.
Williams credits the preparation that she received at St. Mary’s Academy as a contributing factor to her success as an engineer.
“The faculty at SMA preached excellence to us in a loving way and many of them would not accept anything less than our best, “said Williams adding that she spent countless late nights awake “triple checking” her Calculus homework. “ I believe our teachers were showing us that in real life we will not always get do-overs or partial credit. SMA taught me to never slack on my achievements and when I commit to anything to dive in and go for the gold!”