Where All Minds Thrive

Celebrating Black Excellence in the Biological Sciences

Amplifying Black Voices

UCI BioSci is committed to create an inclusive community and climate that supports the growth and success of black excellence in the biological sciences. To launch Black History Month, the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is focusing on telling the story of our talented black faculty, students and BioSci community. 

A Look At Famous Black Scientists

Black History Month provides an opportunity to feature the stories and voices of Black scientists and others in the world of STEM. Below you can learn about some of the most historical Black scientists. 

George Washington Carver was one of the most prominent Black scientists in the early 20th century. Known for his work in agriculture, Carver promoted alternative crops to cotton, methods to prevent soil depletion, improving the lives of farmers, and promoting environmentalism. Today his legacy carries on through his many achievements in the field of agriculture.

Alice Augusta Ball was an African American chemist celebrated for developing the “Ball Method”, the most effective treatment for leprosy. This method isolates the ester compounds found in chaulmoogra oil and chemically modifies the oil to allow for it to be injectable. She was honored in 2000 at her alma mater, the University of Hawaii. The plaque resides on the only chaulmoogra tree at the university.

Marie Maynard Daly was an American biochemist and the first African-American woman in the United States to earn a Ph.D. in chemistry. Her work led to a a new understanding of how foods and diet can affect the health of the heart and the circulatory system. In 1999, the National Technical Association recognized her as one of the top 50 women in Science, Engineering, and Technology.

Emmett Chapelle is recognized as one of the most distinguished African American scientists of the 20th century for his contributions to the fields of medicine, food science, and astrochemistry. He discovered that single-celled organisms are photosynthetic which allows for creating clean oxygen and a safe food source for astronauts. In 2007, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall for his work on bioluminescence.

Solomon Carter Fuller is widely acknowledged as the first African-American psychiatrist. He immigrated to the United States from Liberia at age 17; his paternal grandfather had emigrated from the United States to Liberia upon buying his and his wife’s freedom from slavery. He excelled in his medical career and was selected by Alois Alzheimer to work in his lab at the Royal Psychiatric Hospital in Munich, an experience that paved the way for trailblazing research in Alzheimer’s disease. His translation of Alzheimer’s work, combined with his own work, allowed for knowledge about Alzheimer’s disease as a novel clinical entity to spread throughout the English-speaking world.

Mae Carol Jemison is an American engineer, physician and NASA astronaut. She became the first Black woman to travel in space when she served as a mission specialist and went into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour on September 12, 1992. In 2017, she was the recipient of the Buzz Aldrin Space Pioneer Award, among many other accolades.

Emery Brown is a statistician, neuroscientist, and anesthesiologist. He is notable for his work on neural signal processing algorithms, developing methods to characterize the human circadian rhythm, and for his contributions to unlocking the mystery of general anesthesia. He holds the honor of being the first African American scientist to be elected to all branches of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.