The three decades of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s at Bell Laboratories were to black scientists what the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s was to black artists, according to William Massey, who was at Bell Labs during that era and who is now a professor at Princeton.

Today, as part of the University of Michigan’s Martin Luther King Symposium Massey is delivering an address on Bell Labs as an incubator for talented African-American scientists and innovators.

The address is in honor of Marjorie Lee Browne, the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Michigan.

Massey, Edwin S. Wilsey Professor of Operations Research and Financial Engineering at Princeton, specializes in queueing theory, a key mathematical tool used to solve many problems of providing communications services, from the old-fashioned telephone service to Internet phenomena like Napster and YouTube.

In November he was awarded the Blackwell-Tapia Prize, in recognition of his outstanding record of achievement in mathematical research and his mentoring of minorities and women in the field of mathematics. Also in November Massey and Robert Vanderbei were inducted as fellows of the Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences — an honor accorded to fewer than 1 percent of the institute’s membership and made in recognition of significant research contributions.”

Read a recent profile of Massey here.