1st P.h.D in Chemistry

(April 16, 1921-October 28, 2003)

Marie Maynard Daly

The first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry.

Marie M. Daly was born in 1921 in Corona, New York. Her parents inspired her passion for science; her mother fostered her love of books and her father passed on his love of chemistry. Before Marie was born, her father had enrolled at Cornell University to study chemistry, but ultimately had to leave due to a lack of money.

Marie’s parents were strong believers in education at a time when attending college was seen as impossible to many African Americans. As a woman of color, Marie overcame financial, gender, and racial hurdles. Hence, after graduating from Hunter College High School, an all-girls institution in New York City, Marie attended Queens College in Flushing, New York, where she majored in chemistry choosing to live at home in order to save money.

Marie graduated magna cum laude in 1942 with a Bachelor’s degree in chemistry and was offered a fellowship to pursue her graduate studies at New York University, whilst working part-time as a laboratory assistant at Queens College. Marie completed her Master’s degree in just one year.

In 1944, Marie enrolled at Columbia University as a doctoral student, where she undertook research into compounds the body produces and how these affect digestion. Working under the direction of Dr. Mary L Caldwell (the first female assistant professor at Columbia University), Marie completed her PhD with a thesis entitled “A study of the products formed by the action of pancreatic amylase on corn starch”.

In 1947, she became the first African American woman in the United States to be awarded a PhD in chemistry.

Dr. Daly made important contributions in four areas of research: the chemistry of histones, protein synthesis, the relationships between cholesterol and hypertension, and creatine’s uptake by muscle cells.

Dr. Marie Maynard Daly, whose pioneering research resulted in a new understanding of the relationship between high cholesterol and clogged arteries. In fact, Dr. Daly’s work helped to shape much of what we now know about the biochemical aspects of cardiovascular health, identifying the link between high cholesterol levels and cardiovascular disease, which led to a better understanding of the causes of heart attacks.

Dr. Daly continued to teach and carry out pioneering research at Albert Einstein College, including the study into the effects of cigarette smoking on the lungs, until she retired in 1986.

Notably, Dr. Daly made significant contributions to the field of biochemistry while also advocating for increased enrollment of students of color in medical schools and science graduate programs. In honor of her father, she even created a scholarship program for minority students pursuing science degrees at Queens College.

In 1999, Dr. Marie Maynard Daly was recognized by the National Technical Association as one of the top 50 women in Science, Engineering and Technology.

Dr. Daly died on October 28, 2003.

Dr. Marie Maynard Daly’s impact on future generations of scientists extends far beyond her scientific contributions—her memory continues to inspire individuals from all walks of life to pursue careers in STEM.

Reference for post:

sciencehistory.org

undark.org

blackpast.org

africanamericanscientist.com

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1st to Gold

Alice Coachman

(November 9, 1923–July 14, 2014)

Alice Coachman Davis was an American athlete and the first black woman to win the Olympic gold medal in high jump.

Alice Coachman was from Albany, Georgia, the fifth child of Fred and Evelyn Coachman’s ten children. Coachman grew up in the segregated South. Barred from public sports facilities because of her race, Coachman used whatever materials she could piece together to practice jumping to develop as an athlete.

Coachman received encouragement from her fifth-grade teacher, Cora Bailey, at Monroe Street Elementary School and from her aunt, Carrie Spry, who defended her niece’s interest in sports in the face of parental reservations.

In 1938, when Coachman enrolled in Madison High School, she immediately joined the track team. The Madison boys’ track coach, Harry E. Lash, recognized and nurtured her talent. She quickly attracted the attention of the Tuskegee Institute, in Tuskegee, Alabama, where she enrolled in the high school program in 1939. Even before classes started, she competed in and won her first Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) national championship in the high jump.

That day she broke the AAU high school and college women’s high jump records while barefoot. She won the AAU outdoor high jump championship for the next nine years, also winning three indoor high jump championships. Coachman excelled in the sprints and basketball as well; competing at Tuskegee Institute from 1940 to 1946. There she won national track and field championships in the 50 and 100-meter dashes, the 4 X 100 meter relay, and the running high jump; and as a guard, she led the Tuskegee basketball team to three consecutive conference championships.

At Albany State College in Georgia, Coachman continued high jumping in a personal style that combined straight jumping and the western roll technique.

At the 1948 Olympics in London, her teammate Audrey Patterson earned a bronze medal in the 200-meter sprint to become the first Black woman to win a medal.

In the high jump finals Coachman leaped 5 feet 6 1/8 inches (1.68 m) on her first try. Her nearest rival, Britain’s Dorothy Tyler, matched Coachman’s jump, but only on her second try, making Coachman the only American woman to win a gold medal in that year’s Games.

Altogether she won 25 AAU indoor and outdoor titles before retiring in 1948.

In 1952, she became the first African American woman to sponsor a national product, after signing an endorsement deal with Coca Cola.

Coachman’s post-Olympic life centered on teaching elementary and high school, coaching, and working briefly in the Job Corps. She also taught physical education at South Carolina State College, Albany State College, and Tuskegee High School. Coachman retired from teaching in 1987.

Coachman was one of 12 torchbearers for the Atlanta Olympic games in 1996. She was also inducted into the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in 1997 and the United States Olympic Hall of Fame in 2004.

Alice Coachman died on July 14th, 2014 in Alabama.

References Researched for Post:

Blackpast.org

Olympic.org

Aaregistry.org

Biography.com

Britannia.com

Listening to the New Generation

Ebony Brown

from

B-town

at

thirteen

off the bus

girls grabbed

pushed

and

talked slick

to

punches

flying

Left fist

to right eye,

right fist

to the rib,

in self-defense

she came

running

to

my crib.

Ebony Brown

was weird

preferred to be

alone,

mom

never home,

never

knew her dad,

reading

around school

was really

all

she

had.

To my door

crying

from

frustrations

open arms

to listening

ears

she stay

the night

for

guidance

talking,

and

knowledge

dropping,

her off

to school

in the morning

Afterschool,

an extra mile

walked

to share

a smile

and our day

making sure

Ebony Brown

got home

safe and okay

until,

she moved

away

graduating at the

Top

of her class

She wrote: Because of You.