Celebrating Diversity in Science

10 Women and People of Color in STEM that You Should Know

Men and women of all backgrounds have contributed immeasurably to furthering human understanding. We want to share the achievements of women and people of color to scientific discovery.
 

Mae C. Jemison (1956 - )
Astronaut | Physician | Engineer


In 1992, Mae Jemison orbited the Earth 127 times aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour. Through this accomplishment, she became the first African American woman in space. She founded a medical device company focused on improving health and human performance, as well as, an international science camp for students.

 

George Washington-Carver (1860 - 1943)
Botanist | Inventor | Educator


George Washington-Carver, born into slavery, became a prominent botanist, inventor, and teacher. He developed methods to prevent soil depletion from the repeated growing of cotton. He promoted alternative crops (mainly peanuts) to improve nutrition and quality of life.


 

Rosalind Franklin (1920 - 1958)
Chemist | X-Ray Crystallographer


Rosalind Franklin pioneered the study of molecular structures. Her x-ray images of DNA identified its double helix structure. She is championed as one of the most inspiring female scientists. Yet, her contributions went largely unrecognized for many years.


 

Ronald McNair (1950 - 1986)
Astronaut | Physicist


An MIT-trained physicist, Ronald McNair specialized in laser research. In the 1970s, he joined NASA and became the second African American in space. Serving as one of three mission specialists, he died during the launch of the Space Shuttle Challenger.
 

 

Alice Ball (1892 - 1916)
Chemist | Educator


Alice Ball received her master's degree from the University of Hawaii – the first woman and first African American. The university then hired her as its first female chemistry professor. She discovered the most effective treatment for leprosy. Published after her death, these findings did not give Alice Ball credit. It took many decades before her achievements were recognized.

 

Neil deGrasse Tyson (1958 - )
Astrophysicist | Planetary Scientist

One of the most renowned scientists, Neil deGrasse Tyson eagerly shares his knowledge with the world. An advocate for scientific literacy, he hosts television and podcast series devoted to science and space exploration. Since 1996, he has directed the Hayden Planetarium in New York City.

 


Tu Youyou (1930 - )
Chemist | Educator


Tasked with finding a cure for malaria, Tu Youyou discovered artemisinin and dihydroartemisinin. Tu volunteered to be the first human subject in its clinical trials. Her breakthrough has saved millions of lives. She is the first woman from China to receive a Nobel Prize in any category.


 

Charles Drew (1904 - 1950)
Physician | Surgeon | Medical Researcher


While earning his doctorate, Charles Drew researched the preservation of blood plasma. He developed methods to efficiently store large quantities of blood plasma. Charles Drew developed American's first large-scale blood banks during World War II. He resigned when the armed forces restricted blood donations from African Americans.

 

Jewel Plummer Cobb (1924 - 2017)
Cell Biologist | Cancer Researcher | Educator


Jewel Plummer Cobb is widely recognized for her innovative cancer research. Her discovery of the effectiveness of methotrexate in treating skin cancer is still used in chemotherapy today. She was a strong advocate for the representation of women and people of color in higher education.
 

 

Ernest Everett Just (1883 - 1941)
Biologist | Educator

 

Ernest Everett Just pioneered discovery in many areas of physiology, especially fertilization. He authored two influential textbooks including The Biology of the Cell Surface. Ernest Everett just was the first recipient of the NAACP's Spingarn Medal.

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