- Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant (Ecology)
Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant’s podcast takes us to the world’s most remote jungles, savannas, tundras, mountains, and deserts as she studies wild animals in their natural habitats. In addition to talking about her fascinating research, Dr. Wynn-Grant also talks about the challenges of being a Black woman scientist and researcher.
Podcast: Going Wild with Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant
- Dr. Howard McCurdy (Biology)
Many people know of Dr. Howard McCurdy’s work in politics and civil rights activism. But he was also a scientist with a Ph.D. in microbiology and chemistry. Dr. McCurdy was a faculty member at the University of Windsor and the first person of African descent to hold a tenure-track position at a Canadian university.
Isocitritase, glycine-alanine transaminase and development in Blastocladiella emersonii
Dissertation (Michigan State University, 1959) https://d.lib.msu.edu/etd/5540
The McCurdy Birthright (video interview) https://curio-ca.ledproxy2.uwindsor.ca/en/catalog/7ac37f77-c6e1-4470-b96b-f3d63ac40966
- Elijah McCoy (Engineer/Inventor)
Elijah McCoy was born in Colchester, Ontario around 1844. His parents sought freedom from enslavement via the Underground Railroad and arrived in Upper Canada in 1837. At age fifteen, McCoy left Canada and apprenticed as a mechanical engineer in Scotland for five years. Over his lifetime, he registered more than 50 patents. He considered his graphite lubricator for locomotive engines to be his greatest invention. In 2001, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame (Akron, OH).
The Real McCoy, a play by Andrew Moodie (2006)
- Dr. Mae Carol Jemison (Engineer/Astronaut)
Dr. Mae C Jemison is an American engineer, physician, and former NASA astronaut. In 1992, she became the first Black woman to go into space as part of the crew aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. She has had a very successful and wide-ranging career. She has also worked to encourage children’s education and opportunities in science and math.
Women spacefarers: sixty different paths to space
- Katherine Johnson (Mathematics)
Mathematician Katherine Johnson was one of the first African-American women to work as a NASA scientist. Her calculations of orbital mechanics were critical to the success of the first and subsequent U.S. crewed spaceflights as well as the Space Shuttle program. Her tremendous mathematical skills led to her being called a "human computer." In 2015, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama. Part of her story was told in the book and film Hidden Figures.
Hidden figures: the American dream and the untold story of the Black women mathematicians who helped win the space race
Counting on Katherine https://uwindsor.primo.exlibrisgroup.com/permalink/01UTON_UW/sgtkuc/alma99766410502181
- George Washington Carver (Agricultural Scientist, Botanist, and Inventor)
Agricultural scientist and inventor, George Washington Carver developed hundreds of products using peanuts, sweet potatoes and soybeans. Born into slavery, Carver encountered many obstacles in obtaining his education but eventually he earned a MA in agricultural science from Iowa State University. Booker T Washington would recruit him to run the agricultural department at the Tuskegee Institute where he taught and conducted research. His childhood home was named a national monument, the first of this kind honouring a Black American.
George Washington Carver: In His Own Words (On order for Leddy Library)
- Dr. Marie Maynard Daly (Chemistry)
In 1947, Dr. Marie Maynard Daly was the first African American woman to receive a Ph.D. in chemistry in the US. Her research focused on the effects of cholesterol and sugars on the mechanics of the heart and the health of arteries. In addition to her teaching and research, she was active in developing opportunities for minority students in medical schools and graduate science.
African American women chemists
- Anderson Ruffin Abbott (Medicine)
Anderson Ruffin Abbott (1837- 1913) was the first Black Canadian to be licensed as a physician. Originally from a prominent Black family in Toronto, Abbott joined the Union Army in the Civil War and later attended medical school at the University of Toronto. Although he did not graduate, he was licensed to practice medicine. He set up a practice for a time in Chatham, Ontario, where he became the first Black coroner for Kent County, Ontario. He was also active in campaigning against racially segregated schools and was the president of the Wilberforce Educational Institute in Chatham. He also published widely on topics such as education, medicine, Black history, biology, and poetry.
Family Secrets Crossing The Colour Line
- Rue Mapp (Nature Advocate)
Rue Mapp is the founder and CEO of Outdoor Afro, a nonprofit organization and social community reconnecting African Americans with natural spaces through outdoor recreational activities. Outdoor Afro started as a blog in 2009 and it has continued its multi-media approach as a way to promote the importance of diversity in the outdoors. Outdoor Afro celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature through programming designed to enlighten a diverse community to the wonders of the outdoors.
Nature Swagger: Stories and Visions of Black Joy in the Outdoors (On order for Leddy Library)
- Dudley Edmondson (Nature Photographer and Nature Writer)
Dudley Edmondson is an American nature writer and photographer committed to passing along his love of nature to the next generation. Discussing his book Black & Brown Faces in America’s Wild Places he wrote, “Whenever I go to public lands or national parks, I don’t see many people who look like me.” He wrote this book because he “wanted to tell the story of people like me, African Americans with a deep, unwavering connection to nature. I wanted to create outdoor role models for you African Americans. Influencing our young people this way may be the greatest thing we can do for our future.”
Black & Brown Faces in America’s Wild Places (On order for Leddy Library)
- Benjamin Banneker (Mathematician, Astronomer, Naturalist, Almanac writer)
Benjamin Banneker (1731-1806) was a free African-American mathematician, astronomer, naturalist, and almanac writer. With little or no formal education, Banneker taught himself astronomy, math, and natural history. He is best-known for his Astronomical Almanac which he published between 1792 and 1797. These almanacs contain his own astronomical calculations alongside tidal information, literature, and opinion pieces. Banneker also researched insects and calculated the cycle of the 17-year locust. All but one of Banneker’s journals were lost in a house fire on the day of his funeral. The remaining journal shows that he kept astronomical observations, notes on beehives and behaviour of honeybees, and records of his dreams, alongside mathematical calculations, and puzzles.
Benjamin Banneker: Truth to Power (film)
- Dr. Guion Bluford (Astronaut, Aerospace Engineer)
When Dr. Guion Bluford (b 1942) went into space as a member of the Orbiter Challenger mission, he became the first African American as well as the second person of African descent to go into space. He has a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering. Between 1983 and 1992, he participated in four Space Shuttle expeditions. Dr. Bluford was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1997, the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame in 2010, and the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 2019.
NASA and the long civil rights movement
- Rebecca Lee Crumpler (Physician, nurse, medical author)
Rebecca Lee Crumpler (1831-1895) was the first African-American woman to become a doctor of medicine in the US and one of the first woman medical authors. Her book A Book of Medical Discourses (1883) was also one of the first books written by a person of African descent about medicine.
Changing the equation: 50+ US Black women in STEM
- Gladys West (Mathematics)
Mathematician, Gladys Mae West (née Brown; born October 27, 1930) is a mathematician known for her mathematical modeling of the shape of the Earth and her work developing satellite geodesy models. Her work was foundational in the development of the Global Positioning System (GPS). In a 2020 interview, West reflected, “I felt proud of myself as a woman, knowing that I can do what I can do. But as a Black woman, that’s another level where you have to prove to a society that hasn’t accepted you for what you are. What I did was keep trying to prove that I was as good as you are,” she said. In 2018 she was inducted into the United States Air Force Hall of Fame.
Black women in science: a black history book for kids
- Henrietta Lacks (Cancer research and medical ethics)
Unknowingly, Henrietta Lacks made invaluable contributions to cancer research as well as to advances in medical ethics. Cancer cells were taken from her for medical research and for commercial purposes. These cells, however, were taken without her or her family’s consent and without compensation. The ethics of the taking and use of these cells have been questioned, leading to changes in how a patient’s rights and privacy are protected. In 2011, Lacks was given a posthumous honorary doctorate in public service by Morgan State University in Baltimore.
The immortal life of Henrietta Lacks
- Dr. Carolyn Finney (Nature and Ecology)
Dr. Carolyn Finney’s Black Faces, White Spaces asks why African Americans are underrepresented in terms of interests in nature, outdoor recreation, and environmentalism. Bringing together environmental history, cultural studies, critical race studies, and geography, Finney considers ideologies behind who should and can have access to natural spaces and highlights the work of African Americans who are opening doors to greater participation in environmental and conservation concerns.
Black faces, white spaces: reimagining the relationship of African Americans to the great outdoors (On order for Leddy Library)
- Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein (Theoretical Physicist, Feminist Theorist)
Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein’s research in theoretical physics focuses on cosmology, neutron stars, and particles beyond the standard model. She also does research on feminist science studies, with a specific focus on the experiences of Black women in physics. She has been recognized by Essence Magazine as one of 15 Black Women Who Are Paving the Way in STEM and Breaking Barriers and received the 2017 LGBTQ+ Physicists Acknowledgement of Excellence Award for her years of effort in “Changing Physics Culture to be More Inclusive and Understanding Toward All Marginalized Peoples.”
The disordered cosmos : a journey into dark matter, spacetime, and dreams deferred (On order for Leddy Library)
- Dr. Ruha Benjamin (Sociologist, Health, Technology)
Dr. Ruha Benjamin is a sociologist and associate professor in the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. She teaches, speaks, and publishes about the relationship between innovation and inequity, knowledge and power, race and citizenship, health, and justice.
Benjamin is the author of numerous publications and three books Viral Justice (2022), Race After Technology (2019), and People’s Science (2013), She is the editor of Captivating Technology (2019) and the founder of the Ida B. Wells JUST Data Lab brings together students, educators, activists, and artists to develop a critical and creative approach to data conception, production, and circulation. Our aim is to rethink and retool data for justice.
Race After Technology: Abolitionist Tools for the New Jim Code
- Harriet A. Washington (Writer, Medical Ethicist)
Harriet A. Washington is the author of several books including the multi-award winning Medical Apartheid. This book won the National Book Critics Circle Award, the 2007 PEN Oakland Award, and the 2007 American Library Association Black Caucus Nonfiction Award. This book has been called “the first and only comprehensive history of medical experimentation on African Americans.” Her 2019 book, A Terrible Thing to Waste: Environmental Racism and Its Assault on the American Mind, considers race and class and argues that poor people of colour suffer disproportionately from environmental disasters and environmental toxins, including lead, arsenic, mercury, and DDT. Washington has been a fellow in ethics at the Harvard Medical School, a fellow at the Harvard School of Public Health, and a senior research scholar at the National Center for Bioethics at Tuskegee University and the recipient of a John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University.
A terrible thing to waste: environmental racism and its assault on the American mind
- Alice Augusta Ball (Chemist)
Born in 1892, Alice Augusta Ball was a chemist who developed the “Ball Method” to treat leprosy. It was considered the best treatment for leprosy in the early 20th century. She was also the first African American to earn a MA from the University of Hawaii and that university’s first female and African American chemistry professor. She died at age 24. Her significant contributions to science were long overlooked but she is getting more recognition. In 2022, Hawaii declared February 28 “Alice Augusta Ball Day.”
Stolen science: thirteen untold stories of scientists and inventors almost written out of history
- Dr. Erica N. Walker (Mathematician)
A former high school mathematics teacher, Dr. Erica N. Walker is the Clifford Brewster Upton Professor of Mathematics Education at Columbia University. Her research draws on both historical and contemporary contexts to investigate how people learn and are socialized to do mathematics in various “communities” such as peer, neighborhood, school, family, and home). As a teacher and researcher she uses a range of methods to “tell the most complete story about mathematics teaching and learning” she can. She has published two books: Building Mathematics Learning Communities: Improving Outcomes in Urban High Schools and Beyond Banneker: Black Mathematicians And The Paths To Excellence.
Beyond Banneker: Black Mathematicians And The Paths To Excellence
Building Mathematics Learning Communities: Improving Outcomes In Urban High Schools
- Leland D. Melvin (Engineer, Astronaut)
Leland Devon Melvin is an American engineer and a retired NASA astronaut. He served on board the Space Shuttle Atlantis as a mission specialist on STS-122, and as mission specialist 1 on STS-129. Since 2010, he has worked for NASA as the associate administrator for education, traveling throughout the US talking with students about space exploration and careers in STEM. He has also served on the White House National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Education and is the U.S. representative on the International Space Education Board. Melvin has published two books; Chasing Space: An Astronaut's Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances and Chasing Space: Young Reader's Edition.
Chasing Space: An Astronaut's Story of Grit, Grace, and Second Chances
- Charles Henry Turner (Entomology)
Charles Henry Turner, (1867- 1923) was a behavioral scientist and an early pioneer in the field of insect behaviour, particularly in ants and bees. His best-known research the behaviour of social insects was modified as a result of learning through experience, not simply responses to stimuli. He was the first African American to receive a graduate degree at the University of Cincinnati and was thought to be the first African American to earn a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Turner published 49 papers on invertebrates and was published in the journal Science three times. Much of his research was conducted while he was teaching high school. Turner was also known for his advocacy work related to education and race.
Buzzing with Questions: The Inquisitive Mind of Charles Henry Turner
- Sophia B. Jones (Public Health and Nursing)
Sophia B. Jones was born in Chatham in 1857. She was the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Michigan Medical School. Jones established the Nursing Program at Spelman College, where she was also the first Black faculty member. In 1913, she published "Fifty Years of Public Negro Health," in The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. As Dr. Nina Reid Maroney writes of Jones' work at Spelman on behalf of Black women's medical education, it was "informed by the philosophy of 'racial uplift' shared by many of her African-American contemporaries” and “was an intellectual migration that in its scope was reminiscent of the black abolitionists of her father and mother's generation."
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 49, The Negro's Progress in Fifty Years (Sep., 1913), pp. 138-146 (9 pages)
- Dr. Raychelle Burks (Analytical Chemistry, Forensics)
Dr. Raychelle Burks is an Associate Professor of analytical chemistry at American University in Washington, D.C. She is also a popular science commentator appearing on various TV programs, podcasts, and at events like GeekGirlCon. She writes a “science-meets-true crime column” for Chemistry World called “Trace Analysis.” In 2020 she was awarded the American Chemical Society’s Grady-Stack Award, which recognizes outstanding reporting that “materially increases the public's knowledge and understanding of chemistry, chemical engineering, and related fields.” She is also very active in work related to social justice and STEM.
Dr. Burks’ writings for Chemistry World blog
Being a Black Woman in STEM
- Charles Lightfoot Roman (Occupational Medicine)
Born in Port Elgin, ON (1889), Charles Lightfoot Roman was a recognized expert in occupational medicine. Roman was also one of the first Black Canadians to graduate from McGill’s Faculty of Medicine at University, and one of the first Black Canadians to enlist in military service in WWI at the No. 3 Canadian General Hospital.
He was known for his expertise in industrial medicine, now better known as occupational medicine. His area of research was primarily workplace accidents and the health and safety of cotton mill workers. His research was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Some Reflections Upon The Health And Mortality Of Cotton Textile Workers
- Dr. Charles R. Drew (Surgeon, Medical Researcher)
Born in 1904, Dr. Charles R. Drew was a surgeon and medical researcher. He was the first African American to receive a Ph.D. from Columbia. His research into blood, blood plasma, blood transfusions, blood storage, and the development of large-scale blood banks, and mobile blood donation stations. His research and innovation saved thousands of lives for the Allied forces in WWII through the “Blood for Britain” program.
Drew was also publicly critical of the practice of racial segregation within blood donations. While blood could be donated by African Americans, an armed forces rule determined their blood had to be kept separate from that donated by whites. He resigned from his position as Director of the Red Cross Blood Bank in protest.
As Dr. Drew wrote in a letter in 1947, “So much of our energy is spent in overcoming the constricting environment in which we live that little energy is left for creating new ideas or things. Whenever, however, one breaks out of this rather high-walled prison of the "Negro problem" by virtue of some worthwhile contribution, not only is he himself allowed more freedom, but part of the wall crumbles. And so it should be the aim of every student in science to knock down at least one or two bricks of that wall by virtue of his own accomplishment.”
Dr. Charles Drew: Blood Bank Innovator
If these 28 days of Black History and Black Futures in Science have inspired you, visit the Canadian Black Scientist Network Youth (CBSN-Y) website for resources, events, and connections that can help put you on a future list of amazing scientists in Canada.
Canadian Black Scientist Network Youth (CBSN-Y)