Black Excellence: Dominique Kemp Becomes The First Black Student To Receive A Ph.D. In Mathematics From Indiana University

by Duke Magazine

Dominique Kemp is indeed a quintessence of Black excellence with his historic and inspirational feat. He recently became the first Black man to receive a Ph.D. in mathematics in the history of Indiana University, according to Indiana Daily Student (IDS).

“I’m interested in problems that connect harmonic analysis with geometry. In particular, decoupling, restriction and Kakeya theory, and Böchner-Riesz are my current focus. I also enjoy exploring applications of decoupling inequalities to problems in number theory and geometry, ” he said on his page. 

Kemp has co-written three academic papers, all in the field of discrete mathematics. He had his bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Stanford University in California, where he double-majored in physics and mathematics before fully concentrating on the latter from his junior year forward.

While his experiences have been pleasant overall, he noticed something very interesting about the faces of his professors at IU.

“I was the closest the students got to having a Black mathematics professor here at IU when I was an associate instructor, ” Kemp said to IDS. “In 2018, I believe, I became the only one in the Mathematics Ph.D. program when the last of the other two Black students departed from the program. The combined effect of being the only Black person in the department and having a research area that was not represented well here, I do Harmonic Analysis and there’s only one professor who does work in that field. So taking those two factors of isolation just made this matter of underrepresentation all the more painful for me at the time.”

He will subsequently be going on to research at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, thanks to a funding grant from the National Science Foundation. And in 2024, he will begin his post-doctoral work with the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. 

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