After receiving an MS in mathematics (1941 from University of Michigan), Carolyn Parker was the first African American to earn a postgraduate degree in physics (1951 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology). She was a research physicist at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio whose work regarding the Dayton Project was extremely influential. The Dayton Project was a part of the Manhattan Project which aided in the making of atomic weapons during World War II and the Cold War. Much of her work was kept private during this time. She died of leukemia, likely as a direct result of radiation exposure during her work, and this illness kept her from finishing her doctoral program.