Black Women Scientists Making History

February 7, 2011 at 1:45 pm 2 comments

In honor of Black History Month and our own mission at ADVANCE to undertake professional development initiatives to ensure that outstanding women faculty in science and engineering have resources that foster success at the highest levels in research, teaching, and academic leadership, we’ve put together a list of 10 black STEM woman scholars:

Marguerite Thomas Williams (b. 1895 d. 1991), Geologist

Williams earned a Ph.D. in Geology from Catholic University of America in 1942.  She served as Chairman of the Division of Geography (1923-33) and served from Assistant Professor to full Professor in the Department of Social Sciences, Miner Teachers College.

Roger Arliner Young (b. 1899 d.1964), Zoologist, Biologist, and Marine Biologist

Dr. Young was the first African-American woman to receive a doctorate in zoology (Univ. of Penn, 1940) and became an assistant professor at North Carolina College for Negroes.  In 1924, she made a significant contribution to the study of structures that control salt concentration in paramecium.

Marie Maynard Daly (b. 1921 d. 1993), Biochemist

Daly received a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Columbia University in 1948, the first black female to earn a Ph.D. in Chemistry.  She held appointments at Columbia University and Yeshiva University.

Evelyn Boyd Granville (b. 1924), Mathematician

Granville received a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Yale in 1949, one of the first black women in the United States to receive a Ph.D. in Mathematics.  She has had appointments as Fisk University, California State University, and University of Texas at Tyler where she also served as Chair.

Sister Mary Sylvester Deconge (b. 1933), Mathematician

Deconge earned a Ph.D. in Mathematics and French from St. Louis University in 1968 and was on the faculty at Loyola University and Southern University in Louisiana.

Patricia Bath (b.1942), Ophthalmologist and Laser Scientist

Dr. Bath invented a device and technique for cataract removal and was the first African-American doctor to receive a patent for a medical device.   She was also the first African-American surgeon at UCLA Medical Center, the first woman chair of ophthalmology in the US at Drew-UCLA (1983), and a founder of the American Institute for the Prevention of Blindness.

Shirley Ann Jackson (b. 1946), Theoretical Physicist

Jackson’s first position was as research associate at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois (known as Fermilab) where she studied hadrons. In 1974 she became visiting scientist at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) in Switzerland.

Mary Styles Harris (b. 1949), Biologist and Geneticist

Harris earned a Ph.D. in Genetics from Cornell University in 1975. She continued to work in academe and held leadership positions such as Executive Director for the Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia.

Mae C. Jemison (b.1956), Physician and Astronaut

Jemison obtained her Doctor of Medicine degree in 1981 from Cornell Medical College.  She was the first African-American woman (5th black astronaut) to travel in space (1992 on space shuttle Endeavour).

Aprille Ericsson (b. 1963), Engineer

Ericsson was the first female and first African-American female to receive a PhD in Mechanical Engineering and to work at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center.


Related Resources:

Notable Black Female Scientists and Innovators, Under the Microscope

Index of Women Scientists Profiled in “the Faces of Science: African Americans in the Sciences


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