Notable Black STEMists: Celebrating Black History Month on Twitter

Representation in STEM is something that is incredibly important to me. Higher education isn’t filled with people like me – people of color. The more I advance in my career, the more important I find it to use my platform to highlight people of color who have broken insurmountable boundaries to be successful in their field. 

According to a survey compiled by C&E News, only 1.6% of tenured professors in chemistry at top 50 universities are African American.

For Black History Month, I decided to highlight and celebrate black STEMists who have contributed significant work and research to their respective fields.

The tweet that kicked off my Black History Month Twitter thread (and the linked moment).

Since then, I’ve posted twelve profiles of Black scientists and engineers who not only are STEM research pioneers, but many were actively involved in civil rights and other unconventional fields like art and politics.

Dorothy Lavinia Brown
Dr. D was an incredible black surgeon who went into politics in Tennessee. She helped pass the Negro History Act that required Tennessee public schools to recognize accomplishments made by African Americans for a week. (graphic by Becky Rodriguez; photo from US National Library of Medicine)

Annie Easley
Annie Easley was one of the first “computers” hired by NACA/NASA. She was featured on the cover of Science and Engineering Newsletter because of all her accomplishments. (graphic by Becky Rodriguez; photo from NASA)

Jessie Isabelle Price
Dr. Price was a veterinary microbiologist at Cornell, where she received her PhD. She helped develop various vaccines for life-threatening diseases in birds. (graphic by Becky Rodriguez; photo from the International Duck Research Laboratory, Cornell University)

Mark Dean
Dr. Dean is a computer engineer who helped create the IBM personal computer. He has served as the IBM CTO in the Middle East and Africa and was the VP of research prior to that. (graphic by Becky Rodriguez; photo courtesy of University of Tennessee Knoxville)

Gladys W. Royal
Dr. Royal was a dynamic biochemist. She was also very involved in civil rights. She took the head of the Dept. of Agriculture to court! Though they dismissed a lot of her claims, they acknowledged a failure to promote her and active harassment in the workplace. (graphic by Becky Rodriguez; photo by the Agricultural and Technical College, Greensboro, NC)

Bettye Washington Greene
Dr. Greene was the first black woman to hold a professional position at @DowChemical! She attended segregated public schools. Her Ph.D. dissertation was titled “Determination of particle size distributions in emulsions by light scattering,” published in 1975. (graphic by Becky Rodriguez; photo from Dow Chemical Science History Institute)

John E. Hodge
John E. Hodge is a food scientist icon! He constantly encouraged black scientists to pursue chemistry. (graphic by Becky Rodriguez)

Ruth Smith Lloyd
In addition to being the first black woman to obtain a Ph.D. in anatomy, Dr. Lloyd’s research on fertility in monkeys helped pioneer the field of fertility medicine. In her retirement, she helped found the @WomenInTheArts museum in D.C.! (graphic by Becky Rodriguez)

Joan Murrell Owens
Dr. Owens has various degrees in art, guidance counseling, geology, and marine biology. In addition to discovering three new types of coral, she spent a lot of her life educating as a professor with a wide range of knowledge. (graphic by Becky Rodriguez)

Kevin Greenaugh
Dr. Greenaugh was the first black person to get a degree in Nuclear Engineering from @UofMaryland. He also holds a master’s in Public Policy — using his expertise in nuclear affairs to testify and participate in congressional hearings! (graphic by Becky Rodriguez; photo by Mitchamz)

Bessie Blount Griffin
Bessie B. Griffin was not only an amazing physical therapist and inventor who created devices to help veteran amputees eat, but she became a forensic scientist studying handwriting characteristics. She started her own business studying pre-Civil War documents. (graphic by Becky Rodriguez)

Jerry Lawson
Jerry Lawson completely revolutionized gaming systems by creating gaming consoles with removable games. He founded Videosoft, a video game development company, that made software for the Atari 2600. (graphic by Becky Rodriguez; photo by Evan-Amos)

More Black History Month science resources

Note: This post was edited on March 15, 2019 to add the graphic about Dr. Kevin Greenaugh

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