Kizzy Smithsonian

The “Futures” exhibit in the Smithsonian Institute’s Arts and Industries Building, exhibits a collection called “Featured Futurists,” which includes images of Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett and Dr. Barney Graham. The images were created by artist Nettrice Gaskins.

An image of Hurdle Mills native Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, is on display at the Smithsonian as part of the institution’s 175th anniversary. The Arts and Industries Building of the Smithsonian is reopening for the first time since 2004, with a wide-ranging multidisciplinary show called “Futures,” which explores the wealth of possibilities in the future. The show’s opening was Nov. 20. 

Nettrice Gaskins, an African American digital artist based in Baltimore and Boston, created a series of portraits titled “Featured Futurists,” that includes images of Corbett and Dr. Barney Graham, who, while working at the National Institute of Health’s Vaccine Research Center, designed the structure for a vaccine that would form the basis of several Covid-19 vaccines, including the Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and Novax vaccines.

The display at the Smithsonian Institute’s Arts & Industries Building features a quote from Corbett that reads, “Our goal is to inform. It’s very helpful for people to feel like they’re part of something.”

On Nov. 18, Dr. Corbett was among a select few presented with the North Carolina Award, which is the highest civilian honor given by the state. The gala ceremony took place at the N.C. Museum of Art. The North Carolina Award was created by the General Assembly in 1961, to recognize significant contributions to the state and nation in the fields of fine arts, literature, public service, and science. Gov. Roy Cooper was on hand to present the award. 

Corbett was joined by her family for the awards ceremony and celebration.

Late last month, Corbett, who is now with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, was named “Federal Employee of the Year” along with her colleague Dr. Barney Graham for conducting groundbreaking research while working at the National Institute of Health’s Vaccine Research Center that led to the development of Covid-19 vaccines.

Corbett and Graham were among 13 winners of the 2021 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America medals, which honor excellence in the federal work force. The “Sammies,” known as the “Oscars” of government service, are awarded by the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service. An October 28, 2021 announcement on the Partnership’s website outlined Graham’s and Corbett’s accomplishments on the Covid-19 vaccines, which were produced in record time.