Skip To Content
  • Black Lives Matter badge

15 Black Women In Science You Probably Didn't Learn About In Your History Class

Dr. Green may literally have found the cure for cancer!!

1. Dr. Hadiyah Green

2. Dr. Mae Jemison

3. Marie Maynard Daly

Marie Maynard Daly (1921-2003) was an American biochemist and the first African American woman to obtain a Ph.D. in chemistry in the United States. Daly overcame the dual hurdles of racial + gender bias by conducting several important studies on cholesterol, sugars, and proteins.

After obtaining her PhD in 1947 — becoming the first Black woman in the US to earn a doctorate in chemistry — Daly worked as a professor at Howard University and later helped develop programs to increase the number of minority students in graduate programs. She also started a scholarship in 1988 to honor her father.

4. Alice Ball

5. Aprille Ericsson-Jackson

6. Dr. Alexa Canady

7. Carolyn Beatrice Parker

8. Margaret S. Collins

9. Alma Levant Hayden

Alma Levant Hayden, possibly the 1st African-American female scientist @US_FDA, uncovered a false cancer therapy in 1963. Learn more abt her this #WomensHistoryMonth:

Johns Hopkins University Press

Hayden, who earned a master's degree in chemistry from Howard University, was one of the first Black women scientists at the National Institutes of Health and the FDA and made large contributions to the field of chemistry. Most notably, while at the FDA in the early 1960s, she proved that "Krebiozen" — which a doctor claimed cured cancer — was, in fact, creatine, and not an effective cancer cure.

10. Jewel Plummer Cobb

11. Roger Arliner Young

Roger Arliner Young (1889–1964), 1st Black woman Ph.D. in zoology in US. #BlackHistory

CreateSpace Publishing

Young was the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in zoology. She got her master's degree from the University of Chicago in 1926 after being encouraged by Black biologist and zoologist Ernest Just while pursuing her bachelor's degree at Howard University. After earning her master's degree, she researched fertilization in aquatic animals and hydration of cells with Just and even filled in for him as head of the department when he was traveling. She went through a number of personal issues for a few years but returned to science and received a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1940 before finding work as a professor.

12. Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler

To honor Breonna Taylor's work in STEM as an EMT, I'm highlighting Black women scientists from history. In 1864, Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first female African American to earn a Doctorate of Medicine. #BlackInSTEM #WomenInSTEM @WeRepSTEM @BlackWomenSTEM

Crumpler was the first Black woman to receive an MD, and when she wrote A Book of Medical Discourses in Two Parts, it became one of the first medical publications by a Black person. She worked as a nurse before attending New England Female Medical College from 1860 to 1864. After the Civil War, she moved to Richmond, Virginia, where she helped care for freed slaves and worked with missionary and community groups before returning to Boston to practice.

13. Dr. Dorothy Lavinia Brown

14. Shirley Jackson

15. And finally, Mary Elliott Hill

Mary Elliott Hill was an analytical chemist and professor. She started several chapters of the @AmerChemSociety where she taught.

Hill, an organic and analytical chemist, was a pioneering Black woman in chemistry who earned a master's degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1941 and became head of the chemistry department at Tennessee State University in 1951. She worked with her husband on research that aided in the development of plastics, and coauthored over 40 research papers and two textbooks. She also did important research on ultraviolet light.