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1947 to Present

1947 – Robert Louis Shepard is born at Saint Agnes Hospital  for Negroes on the Campus of Saint Augustine’s College (now University) in Raleigh, North Carolina


1952 – The Shepard Family – Parents Louis Lee Shepard and Verna Mae Whitaker Shepard, and siblings Ruth, Robert, Maxine, and Janice – moves to 507 Rand Mill Road in Garner, North Carolina


1953 – Enrolls in first grade at age 5 

1955 – Fifth sibling, Roger is born

1958 – Family moves into new home Louis Shepard built on family land his wife Verna inherited at 221 1/2 Haywood Street in Garner • Sixth sibling, Celeste is born   


Based on work inside and outside of the Agency, in 2022 a Mural of Shepard was placed on a wall in the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) building in Rockville, MD (click to pop-up image)

1962 – Becomes first player in school’s history to be selected

to play on the varsity basketball team as a freshman


1963 – Selected athlete with highest scholastic average three years in a row from sophomore to senior year (1963-1965)


1964 – Selected to Wake-Johnston County Athletic Conference (WJCAA) All-Conference and All-Tournament basketball teams • Seventh and final sibling, Anthony is born


1965 – Graduates from Garner Consolidated High School as salutatorian of high school class and receives an academic scholarship to Saint Augustine’s University • Selected to WJCAA All-Conference and All-Tournament basketball teams


1966 – Plays in the Central Inter-Collegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) during freshman and sophomore years that included a “brief moment” on the basketball court against the future great Hall of Fame player Earl “The Pearl” Monroe (dreams of becoming a basketball star in the CIAA ends after on-court experience with “The Pearl”) • Turns complete attention to academic studies


1969 – Receives a B.S. degree in Chemistry from Saint Augustine’s University • Receives a National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) Fellowship from Howard University to pursue a Ph.D. in Chemistry • Marries college sweetheart, Alzonia Wiggins


1970 – First child, Shawn Enrique Shepard is born


1971 – Receives M.S. degree in Physical Organic Chemistry from Howard University (wife Alzonia receives BA in English from Saint Augustine's University at the same time)


1973 – Receives Ph.D. degree in Physical Organic Chemistry (+ & - Ion Mass spectroscopy) from Howard University • Begins career as the first Black Ph.D. scientist in a company heading their X-ray Diffraction and Atomic Absorption laboratory


1974 – Second child, Robin Nicole Shepard is born


1975 – Joins the newly created U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) as the first Black Ph.D. scientist in the Division of Nuclear Materials Safety and Safeguards (NMSS) • Publishes an internal paper on Bias Corrections in the Measurement of Nuclear Materials that results in a promotion to the NRC Research Office to join the safeguards research program • Becomes a member of peer review panels for federal agencies to rate the quality of university proposals submitted in response to federal research opportunities where participation by Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) is noticeably lacking


1980 – Selected to travel to Scotland, Germany, and Italy on international assignment to discuss the NRC Safeguards Research Program. While in Europe invited to travel to Austria to make presentation on NRC safeguards research at the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency • While on international assignment vision expands beyond lack of participation of HBCUs in federal research opportunities to include examination of technological issues facing sub-saharan African countries

1981 – Elected Regional Chair the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE)  • Forms first business, INFRASURFACE, INC., a non-profit consulting firm to provide technical assistant to HBCUs and to indigenous organizations in Africa working to improve technological development on the continent

1982 – Makes first trip to Africa at the request of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) as a Science Consultant Expert to the African Regional Center for Technology (ARCT) in Dakar, Senegal for the purpose of removing the robustness from US Agency for International Development (USAID), World Bank (WB), and International Monetary Fund (IMF) projects


1982 – Makes second trip to Africa. NOBCChE Selected INFRASURFACE, INC. to represent its constituency at a United Nations Financing System for Science and Technology Development (UNFSSTD) sponsored meeting aimed at initiating and reinforcing cooperative links between African and international science and technology bodies so that skills and resources can be systematically mobilized to support African efforts

1983 – Third child, Pamela Alverna Shepard is born • Becomes a member of peer review panels for federal agencies to rate the quality of university proposals submitted in response to federal research opportunities where participation by Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) is noticeably lacking • Not able to move ideas forward at a steady pace through INFRASURFACE so encourages Howard University Chemistry Department to join the effort

1984 – Joins the Chemistry Department at Howard as a Visiting Scientist under the government's Intergovernmental Personnel Assistant (IPA) Program to provide an avenue for testing model for improving the research infrastructure at HBCUs and technical assistance to African organizations

1986 - $100,000 proposal funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to establish a collaborative research initiative between Howard's Chemistry Department and the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University [OAU]) in Nigeria

1987 - Makes third trip to Africa to set up field studies involving Agronomy researchers at OAU

1988 – Returns to NRC Research Office and promoted to Technical Assistant to Office Director • Establishes first financial assistance program in NRC to support research at HBCUs


1990 – Research collaboration between Howard and OAU trained four (4) graduated students, published nine (9) research papers in refereed journals, and generated an additional $1.8 Million for new research at Howard University

1990 – Terminates federal position with the NRC to form second business, the Science and Engineering Alliance, Inc. (known as SEA) as a Delaware 501(c)(3) nonprofit research and educational consortium with its headquarters located at 1522 K Street, NW, Suite 210, Washington, DC 20005  • Dissolves INFRASURFACE, INC.


1990 - 2013 - Serves as SEA's Founding Executive Director • Mission of SEA: To create access and open doors of opportunity for inclusion of HBCUs and other Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) in the federal research enterprise • Becomes a chief negotiator for inclusion of HBCUs in the federal government’s multi-billion dollars a year research enterprise • Travels to China to discuss potential for collaborations between HBCUs and Chinese universities • Successfully establishes the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) Satellite Site (NSS) program for inclusion of HBCUs in the National Science Foundation (NSF) 30+ year large-scale NEON research initiative  • NSS Framework • NSS Framework buried in a time capsule as part of a special NEON ribbon-cutting ceremony held in Boulder, Colorado in May 2011 • Capsule scheduled to be retrieved and opened in 2041


2013 – Forms The Shepard Institute (TSI), LLC as the vehicle for continuing advocacy work on behalf of underutilized and underrepresented individuals, institutions, and geographical regions • Writes his first book, "Fulfilling My Destiny, Step By Step - An Autobiography"


2014 – Steps down from leadership of SEA  • Accomplishments

2015 – Provides consultant support to his undergraduate institution, Saint Augustine's University, to help secure federal grants and contracts to strengthen the institution's science education program


2016 – Adds voice to the TED Talk global community of speakers


2017 – Writes his second book, "Fulfilling Your Destiny, Step By Step - A Self-Help Guide" which is a companion to his Autobiography • Mentors and Coaches others through his writing and speaking

2018 – Puts Autobiography in Audiobook format

2019 –  Makes fourth trip to Africa: Invited to Ogbomoso, Nigeria to conduct the Induction Ceremony and deliver the Inaugural Address for the first Indigenous President of Ladoke Akintola University of Technology (LAUTECH) who was a graduate student in his laboratory at Howard University in 1985

2022 – For his accomplishments inside and outside the Agency, a Mural of Shepard was placed on a wall in the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) building in Rockville, Maryland

Awards – Recipient of many awards  • Academic Scholarship to Saint Augustine's University  • National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) Fellowship to Howard University • Howard University Terminal Fellowship  • United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Distinguished HBCU Alumni  • Howard University Distinguished Ph.D. Alumnus in Chemistry  • Saint Augustine's University Distinguished Alumni  • Garner Consolidated High School Distinguished Alumni  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) Diversity Award • Emerald Honors Educational Leadership Award from Science Spectrum Magazine  • 21st Century Trailblazer, Jackson, MS City Council • Heart for Men Award, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church • Member of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity

A native of Garner, North Carolina, Dr. Shepard now enjoys life moving between Maryland and North Carolina. He and his wife Alzonia are the proud parents of three adult children and three grandchildren.

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